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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China says Panchen Lama 'living a normal life' 20 years after disappearance

September 7, 2015

The Guardian, September 6, 2015 - A young Tibetan who vanished two decades ago after he was chosen by the Dalai Lama as the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism is “living a normal life” and does not want to be disturbed, a senior Chinese official said on Sunday.

The remarks are a rare admission of the fate of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, now 26.

“The reincarnated child Panchen Lama you mentioned is being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed,” said Norbu Dunzhub, a member of the Tibet autonomous region’s united front work department.

Gendun Choekyi Nyima was six-years-old when he was taken away after exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama named him as the Panchen Lama.

Norbu Dunzhub denounced the Dalai Lama for declaring the boy as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, saying the selection “ignored historical customs and destroyed religious rituals”.

“The identification was done without authorisation. It was illegal and invalid,” he said.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Gendun Choekyi Nyima’s disappearance, whose fate remains of deep concern to many Tibetans.

Though officially atheist, the Chinese Communist Party has long maintained that Gendun Choekyi Nyima is not the real Panchen Lama.

The Dalai Lama and China have repeatedly tussled over who has final authority on the issue of reincarnation.

In 1995, in a bid to win the hearts and minds of the Tibetans, the government selected Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama. He is reviled by many Tibetans as a fake.

Tibetans fear that China will use the issue of the Dalai Lama’s succession to split Tibetan Buddhism, with one new Dalai Lama named by exiles and one by the government after his death.

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