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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

If there really is peace in Tibet, Beijing should free the true Panchen Lama

March 19, 2009

by Nirmala Carvalho
AsiaNews
March 17, 2009

For 14 years, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama recognized
by the Dalai Lama, has been sequestered together with his family.
Beijing continues to say that he is "doing well," and that there is
religious freedom in Tibet: the liberation of the true Panchen Lama
could be the only credible sign of this.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Beijing's publicity campaign about the
beneficial effects of Chinese domination in Tibet has a serious
defect. "If there really is peace in Tibet, as Beijing and the false
Panchen Lama claim, then why do they refuse to show the world the
true Panchen Lama, the one recognized by the Dalai Lama? The
disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima for 14 years completely
contradicts China's claim to respect religious freedom in Tibet."

Urgen Tenzin, director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and
Democracy (TCHRD), makes this comment on the recent statements by
Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao, according to whom Tibet is
"peaceful and stable." And he lashes out at the comments of Gyaincain
Norbu, the "official" Panchen Lama, recognized by Beijing, but not by
the Tibetans. After reaffirming the value of 50 years of communism in
the region, yesterday Xinhua quoted this statement of his: "The
people living in Tibet should hold dear the prosperity and happiness
that they experience today."

"This Gyaincain Norbu," Tenzin says, "does not have the devotion and
allegiance of the Tibetan people, so his statements are
inconsequential. Gyaincain Norbu does not enjoy any authority either
in the hearts nor minds of the Tibetan people. The Chinese have
appointed the 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu just to politicize
the Tibetan religion, and since the Dalai Lama fled to India, fifty
years ago, there is so much devotion to the Panchen Lama that the
Chinese are abusing the name of the Panchen Lama for their own
political games, by appointing their own Panchen Lama."

On May 14, 1995, the Dalai Lama recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as
the reincarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama, the second highest
authority in Tibetan Buddhism. But a few days later, the child - who
was six years old at the time - was kidnapped together with his
parents, becoming the youngest prisoner of conscience in the world.
In his place, China appointed Gyaincain Norbu, who was then taken to
Beijing for his studies.

"Since May 17, 1995," Tenzin complains, "we have heard nothing about
our true Panchen Lama. Beijing continues to say that he is alive and
well, and is leading a normal life. But if that is true, then why do
they refuse to show him in public? The TCHRD has asked various
international institutions to verify that he is well, and where and
how he is living, but China has always refused to cooperate.

"The continued disappearance of the Panchen Lama in the Tibetan
hierarchy completely contradicts China's claim to respect religious
freedom in Tibet. It is a matter of great concern that the second
highest religious leader is denied and bereft of any traditional
religious studies and training, even if he is alive. We urge the
international community to pressure the Chinese for the unconditional
release of the Panchen Lama and his family."

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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