XIth Panchen Lama turns 24, Tibetans demand immediately release

Dharamsala: Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Tibet’s XIth Panchen Lama, one of the most important Tibetan spiritual leaders, turned 24 today under house arrest in China.

“It is his 18th year in Chinese custody at an undisclosed location after he and his parents disappeared in 1995. He was only six years old when he was disappeared by the Chinese authorities,” said Ms Tsering Tsomo , spokesperson of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), which is demanding immediately and unconditionally release of Panchen Lama.

panchen lamaShe said, for last 18 years, the Chinese authorities have willfully misled the international community on the actual whereabouts and wellbeing of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family members.  The Chinese government has failed to substantiate such hollow reassurances with concrete evidences, and has continued to rebuff any requests from UN human rights mechanisms and other international bodies.

The ongoing enforced disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family has further tainted China’s abysmal human rights record,” she alleged.

The forced disappearance of Panchen Lama violates Tibetan people’s collective right to freedom of religion and belief. “The spiritual void China created by Panchen Lama’s disappearance cannot be filled by political replacement,’ she added.

Tsomo said, “Article 34 of the Chinese Constitution stipulates that any person who has reached the age of 18 is entitled to fundamental rights such as the right to religious belief, education and occupation. Therefore, the continuing Chinese custody of Panchen Lama violates the fundamental rights enshrined in the Chinese Constitution.”

Since Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is widely regarded by many Tibetans as the true incarnation of the Xth Panchen Lama, the Chinese government should allow him to be who he is and what Tibetan people think of him.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has called on China to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima immediately and unconditionally.

Arvind Sharma is an award winning bi-lingual journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He has worked with Divya Himachal, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhasker, Vir Partap, Ajit and PTI. In 2010, he was conferred the Himachal Kesri journalism award. He reports on the Tibetan Government in Exile, politics, sports, tourism and other topics. He lives in Dharamshala.

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