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Daughter of Tibet's late Panchen Lama urges unity

March 18, 2008

By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING, March 17, 2008 (Reuters) - The daughter of Tibet's late 10th
Panchen Lama on Monday invoked her father in calling for ethnic unity in
the wake of monk-led, pro-independence protests in her Himalayan
homeland which turned ugly and left dozens dead.

Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo is the only child of the late 10th Panchen Lama,
the most senior religious figure in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai
Lama who fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising.

"I have closely followed recent events in Tibet and my heart is heavy,"
Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo told Reuters by telephone when asked to comment
on the rioting.

"I remember my father always said all nationalities should be united,
our world should be stable," said the U.S.-educated princess who is
currently pursuing a doctorate in finance at Beijing's elite Tsinghua
University.

"We all hope for harmony," she said, echoing President Hu Jintao's
campaign to build a "harmonious society" in the face of rising social
unrest. She declined further comment.

In 1995, the Dalai Lama and China's atheist Communist rulers chose rival
reincarnations of the 10th Panchen Lama who died in 1989. The 6-year-old
boy anointed by the Dalai Lama swiftly disappeared from public view,
leading human rights groups to dub him the world's youngest political
prisoner.

After the Dalai Lama fled, the 10th Panchen Lama stayed on and was
initially seen as a collaborator, but it emerged in the 1990s that he
spent more than a decade either in prison or under house arrest for
attacking Beijing in a 1962 petition over mass jailings, starvation and
efforts to wipe out Buddhism in his homeland.

Chairman Mao Zedong dismissed his 70,000-word petition as a "poisoned
arrow shot at the (Communist) Party by reactionary feudal overlords".

The 10th Panchen Lama was freed in 1977, a year after Mao's death, and
politically rehabilitated the following year.

He is revered by many Tibetans and launched the first Tibetan charity
dedicated to helping his people and a company which served as an
economic model to generate income via traditional arts. (Editing by Nick
Macfie)
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