Dharamsala: Four Tibetan NGOs dedicated today’s Lhakar action for the release of 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima whose predecessor 10th Panchen Lama was specifically vocal on Tibetan cultural and identity. Hundreds of Tibetans gathered at Mcleod square wearing Panchen Lama’s face masks demanding his whereabouts and his eventual release. A simultaneous petitioning campaign also took place where people were asked to call the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. All the signed petition including the ongoing online petition (1) will be delivered to Mr. Zhu Weiqun, Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department and copied to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi.
“We urge Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama so that he will be reunited with his family and thousands of followers who have been waiting for his release for the last 18 years. We also urge the Chinese government to release all the prisoners of conscience.” said Tashi Dolma, President, Tibetan Women’s Association.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, and his family have been missing for 18 years. This year the Panchen Lama will turn 24, and Tibetans, Tibet Supporters, and Buddhists all over the world are deeply concerned about his well-being.
“The last time we heard anything about the Panchen Lama from the Chinese government side was in 2010. In March 2010, Tibet’s then Chinese-appointed Governor, Padma Choling, told reporters that “Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family are now living a good life as ordinary citizens in Tibet.”(2). said Mrs. Gang Lhamo, General Secretary, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet. “Without evidence this statement remains empty and we demand you prove that it is true.”
A number of human rights mechanisms including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have called for his whereabouts to be revealed.
“The Chinese government’s intention behind appointing their own 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu is but to take over the political, financial and cultural powers that come with being the head of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery, ” said Gang Lhamo, General Secretary of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet. “Forced to become the 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu has to act and live a life, not chosen for by himself. Tibetans in Tibet have to recognize and worship him under duress. These actions not only highlight the lack of freedom and human rights, but also how the Chinese government undermines and insults Tibetan people’s tradition, culture and religion.”
Panchen Lama is one of the most important religious leaders in Tibet. The 10th Panchen Lama passed away mysteriously in 1989. His reincarnation, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized at age 6 in 1995 was taken into custody by the Chinese government along with his family and to date no one knows his whereabouts.
According to information received by Ven. Ngawang Woebar, the former President of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet said, “His parents are currently placed under house arrest in their home town; they are not allowed to make any outside contact. Police officials are reportedly escorting and monitoring all their movements. Panchen Lama’s mother seem to have sadly expressed that she is the most unfortunate mother who has to live in constant fear and worry not knowing if her son is still alive or not.”
Coordinated by International Tibet Network www.tibetnetwork.org
Tibetan Women’s Association www.tibwomen.org
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet http://9103.org
Students for a Free Tibet-India www.sftindia.org
Regional Tibetan Youth Congress – Dharamsala
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
2. Padma Choling, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region: ‘Dalai-picked ‘Panchen’ Lives Normal Life’ (Xinhua) 2010-03-07 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-03/07/content_9550348.htm
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was 6 years old in 1995 when he was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, one of Tibet most important religious leaders.
He was born on April 25, 1989 in central Tibet. As soon as he was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, Chinese authorities took him and his family into custody. Few other people, particularly Chartral Rinpoche, the head of the search party was arrested and sentenced for leaking his information to the Dalai Lama.
The Chinese government asserted its political motive into the reincarnation search by installing another young boy, Gyaiancain Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama. The replacement was kept in Beijing and recently given a political title in the Chinese government, equivalent to that of a member of parliament or congressmen. He was routinely asked to make propaganda statement for the Chinese government.
For the last eighteen years, concerned people and human rights entities all over the world have urged the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama to no avail. The whereabouts and wellbeing of the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a serious concern and the Chinese government should heed the call of devotees and supporters for his immediate release.