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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Suicides" of Tibetan monks; they were to recognise the next Dalai Lama

January 21, 2008

Gyaltsen Tsepa Lobsang and Yangpa Locho, both 71 years old, were found
hanged at the monastery of Tashilhunpo between September and November.
They had recognised the eleventh Panchen Lama, who was later abducted by
Beijing, and had educated the instigators of the great anti-China revolt
in the early 1990's.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Two of the oldest and most respected Tibetan
Buddhist monks have died under mysterious circumstances - officially,
"they committed suicide" - over the course of the last two months in
Shigatse, the second-largest Tibetan city. Both were staunch supporters
of the Dalai Lama, whose successor they were supposed to recognise. This
is confirmed by various Tibetan and Indian sources, who are remaining
anonymous for their own safety, and explain "The news is only now coming
to light because the government had tried to obfuscate it".

The two elderly monks - Gyaltsen Tsepa Lobsang and Yangpa Locho, both 71
years old - were found hanged in the monastery of Tashilhunpo, the
official seat of the Panchen Lama and the setting of one of the most
violent anti-China demonstrations ever conducted in Tibet. According to
some local lamas, the government and the monastery's abbots have always
humiliated and ostracised the two monks, who were "guilty" of having
educated the instigators of the revolt (which took place in the first
half of the 1990's), and were above all responsible for the recognition
of the eleventh Panchen Lama, who was later abducted by the communist

The tenth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, died in 1995 in a completely
unexpected manner, in Shiagatse, immediately after renouncing his
pro-China positions and delivering a harsh address against the communist

In May of 1995, after hearing the favourable opinions of some of the
monks of Tashilhunpo (including the two "suicides"), the Dalai Lama
recognised the new Panchen Lama in the little Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, then
a 6-year-old boy. To weaken the authority of the Dalai Lama, the Office
of Religious Affairs of the Chinese communist party in November of the
same year chose Gyaincain Norbu, another 6-year-old boy, alleging
special religious reasons.

After his recognition, the young Geghun was abducted by the police, and
has not been seen since. The repeated international requests to see the
child, including on the part of the United Nations, have always been
rejected by Beijing, which replies that the youngster and his family "do
not want to be disturbed by outside visitors, because this could have
negative effects". The second Panchen Lama is not liked among the
Tibetans, so he lives in China.

The Panchen Lama is the second most important political-spiritual figure
for all of Tibetan Buddhism. He has the task of guiding the young Dalai
Lama until he comes of age, and until then the Panchen Lama makes the
most important decisions concerning Tibet in his stead. Furthermore,
some ancient traditions say that the monks who recognise the Panchen
Lama - if they are still alive - are consulted for the recognition of
the new Dalai Lama.

According to some Tibetan monks, the death of Lobsang and Locho could be
connected to this function: last September, in fact, Beijing released a
new law that regulates reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism, leaving the
decisive initiative to political, rather than religious, leaders. In
this way, the Chinese government intends to cut off the influence of the
Dalai Lama, securing for itself the fidelity of his successor. Gyaltsen
Tsepa Lobsang died a few days after the approval of the law; Yangpa
Locho died two months later.
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