TWA observes the 25th birthday of XIth Panchen Lama
April 25, 2014: Tibetans and Tibet supporters are today marking the 25th birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet. But, there will be no party or celebration; Gedhun Choekyi Nyima will once again be spending his birthday in an unknown location having been abducted by the Chinese authorities in 1995, following his recognition as one of Tibet’s most important religious figures. Nineteen years ago on May 17, 1995, 6 year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was imprisoned for no crime and for purely political reasons.
The Tibetan Women’s Association and its global network of 56 regional chapters call on the Chinese leadership and the Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), to disclose the whereabouts of the 25-year old Panchen Lama of Tibet. Panchen Lama’s parents are currently placed under house arrest in their home town- they are not allowed to make any outside contact and police officials reportedly escort and monitor all their movements.
Tibetans, Tibet supporters, Human Rights Organizations and World Governments have consistently urged China to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, but these appeals continue to go unheeded. For nearly two decades the Chinese authorities have denied requests from governments and the United Nations for access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family.
In September 2013, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Child (CRC) in its concluding observation on China mentioned its concern over the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. CRC mentioned that, “the situation of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who disappeared at the age of six years in 1995, and despite the State party’s information, mainland China has not allowed any independent expert to visit and confirm his whereabouts, fulfillment of his rights and well-being. Immediately allow an independent expert to visit Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and verify his health and living conditions.”
In 2010 Padma Choling, the former Chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), made a statement saying that “Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is living a normal life,” but there is no evidence of his current state. We demand that he provide evidence to this.
To mark his 25th birthday and in remembrance of Xth Panchen Lama, Choekyi Gyaltsen, TWA is organizing a panel discussion on the topic- “The indomitable Spirit of the Xth Panchen Lama and significance of the 70,000 Character Petition” in Mcleod Ganj. This will discuss the significance of the “70,000 character petition” (described by Mao Zedong as), which essentially is a significant document ‘systematically critiquing and making recommendations about the work in Tibet and other Tibetan areas.’ It is also one of the most important documents in modern Tibetan history. It was denounced by China’s former leader Mao Zedong in 1962 as “a poisoned arrow shot at the Party” and called Panchen Lama as “a reactionary feudal overlord”.
According to the Tibetan astrological predictions, the 25th birth year is the year of astrological hindrances to an individual’s life. Therefore TWA and its regional chapters will be organizing massive prayers and elaborate rituals including ‘Kagyur’ reading to ensure the immediate release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima from the clutches of Chinese government.
At the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meetings and the recent Universal Periodic Review in October 2013, China confidently claimed that all its ethnic minorities have human rights- political, economic, cultural, social, educational, religious. But the case of continued abduction of Tibet’s spiritual leader Panchen Lama reflects China’s gross violation of religious and political rights of the Tibetan people in Tibet. It also shows that even after 55 years illegal occupation of Tibet, the Chinese government has failed to assert its political or religious legitimacy and authority over Tibetan people and in Tibet. Last year in November, China was re-elected in the UNHRC thus making them obligated to improve the human rights situation in both China and Tibet.
TWA calls on the Chinese Government to implement all its national and international commitments on human rights and to ensure the immediate release of the XIth Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as a step towards such staying true to its affirmations.
Tibetan Women’s Association
Central Executive Committee, Dharamsala