Tibetans In Exile Seek Freedom For Panchen Lama On Birthday

On the occasion of the 33rd birthday of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Central Tibetan Administration CTA called upon the Chinese government to rightfully allow the Panchen Lama and his family to live a free life they are entitled to under the international laws and treaties that China is obligated to.

In a statement issued today from Dharamsala, the headquarters of CTA, a strong message was sent to Beijing that the world has not forgotten about Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, despite China’s efforts to erase him from our history.

Panchen Lama (File Photo)

On 14 May 1995, the Dalai Lama endorsed Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama. In response, the Chinese government arrested Chadrel Rinpoche, leader of the Panchen Lama Search Committee. On 17 May 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was also taken into Chinese custody along with his entire family, making the six-year-old the youngest political prisoner in the world. The Chinese government decided to ignore His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s choice and went on to select their own candidate. On 11 November 1995, the Chinese government announced Gyaltsen Norbu, the son of a Communist Party member as the 11th Panchen Lama.

In November 1995, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances expressed concerns about the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama and urged the Government of the People’s Republic of China to provide information on the case. Since then, a number of human rights bodies including the UN Committee against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as Special Reporter on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have all urged the Chinese government for the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts to be made known.

Till Today, China has turned a deaf ear to these pleas and continues to deceive the world by alleging that “the Panchen Lama is an ordinary citizen, living a perfectly normal life and does not wish to be disturbed”. Therefore, the Panchen Lama’s case continues to remain one of the longest cases of enforced disappearance in the world.

The Tibetan government in exile at Dharamsala have appealed the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to press China to release information about the current status and whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (born 25 April 1989) is the 11th Panchen Lama belonging to the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, as recognized and announced by the 14th Dalai Lama on 14 May 1995. The Panchen Lama is one of the most important figures in the Gelug tradition, with its spiritual authority second only to the Dalai Lama.

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