Tibetans seek release of Panchen Lama

[The Tribune] DHARAMSALA, May 18: Tibetans and their supporters today observed the International Solidarity Day to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Panchen Lama going missing from Tibet.

In a press release issued here today, spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said six-year-old Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was recognised by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama on May 1995. Three days after his recognition, he was taken away by the Chinese authorities, thus making him one of the youngest political prisoners of the world.

Since then, for 20 years now, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family’s whereabouts remain unknown. The Chinese Government replaced the Panchen Lama, recognised by the Dalai Lama, with another young boy as their Panchen Lama, he claimed.

A number of human rights bodies have called for the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts to be made public. However, China has turned a deaf ear to the pleas.

Although the Chinese authorities have admitted taking him, they have continually refused to divulge any information about him.

“This is an aggressive attempt by an atheist Chinese Government to legitimise its control over the centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist practice of reincarnation. In this context and given his crucial cultural and religious role, it is critical that the Panchen Lama receives a spiritual upbringing that is free from interference. On this day, we once again appeal to the international community to launch a concerted effort to urge China to release the Panchen Lama and all political prisoners in Tibet. We renew our pledge to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Tibet and pray for the earliest resolution of the issue of Tibet,” said the spokesperson.

He said they had also expressed their solidarity with the Tibetan people inside Tibet.

“It is a day to reinforce our efforts and dedication to show our unwavering support for their relentless struggle for freedom and justice. Political repression, cultural assimilation, environmental destruction and lack of religious freedom have led to waves of protests, including 138 self-immolations since 2009. They reflect the Tibetan people’s categorical rejection of the People’s Republic of China’s repressive policies in Tibet,” he added.

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