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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 urged to free 11th Panchen Lama

April 27, 2010

Phayul [Monday, April 26, 2010 16:43]
By Phurbu Thinley

Gendhun Choekyi Nyima's photo taken in 1995, when he was six years old,
remains the only proving clue available of him to the outside world.

Dharamsala, April 26: For Tibetans Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, who turned 21
Sunday, is very much their beloved and undisputed His Holiness the 11th
Panchen Lama of Tibet. But no one knows where he is and what has become
of him since he disappeared out of public view in Tibet 15 years ago.

Chinese Communist authorities secretly abducted him along with his
parents in May 1995, shortly after His Holiness the Dalai Lama declared
him to be the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. Today only one photo
taken when he was six years old remains the only clue available of him
to the outside world.

Chinese Government claims that his whereabouts are kept undisclosed to
protect him, but all requests for access to Gendhun Choekyi Nyima have
been repeatedly refused so far.

The latest statement by the Chinese authorities concerning the fate of
the Gendhun Choekyi Nyima came just last month from Pema Thinley, the
Chinese-appointed governor of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Thinley
told reporters on the sidelines of China's annual legislative session in
Beijing earlier in March that the young boy was living with his family
and having a ?very good life? somewhere in Tibet. He, however, gave no
further details.

Tibetans and their supporters around the world on Sunday marked his 21st
birthday by organising free Panchen Lama campaigns and holding candle
light vigils in the evening to pray for his well-being.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama releases a book at a commemoration ceremony
to mark 20 years since the passing away of the 10th Panchen Lama,
Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen, at Tsunglakhang in Dharamsala, India,
December 30, 2009. (file photo/Phayul)
In Dharamsala, the seat of Tibet?s government in exile in north India,
official function was held yesterday during which exile Tibetan leaders,
including the Speaker Penpa Tsering and Deputy Speaker Gyari Dolma of
the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, and Cabinet ministers of the exile
Tibetan government urged the Chinese Government to show him to the
international community and let it meet him.

The Tibetan Women?s Association (TWA), one of the most prominent
organisations campaigning for the release of Panchen Lama, urged the
international community, including the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights and other human rights bodies, to join their "15-year
struggle" to save the fate of the 11th Panchen Lama.

"TWA is committed to campaigning for the safe return of the Panchen Lama
to his rightful abode and to seeing the complete restoration of his
political and religious rights. Until this happens, we will do
everything in our power to keep the plight of the Panchen Lama at the
forefront of people?s minds," says Kirti Dolkar Lhamo, the president of

TWA also launched an artwork competition featuring more than 20
acclaimed Tibetan artists to create an imaginary portrait of the 21-year
old Panchen Lama. "This new art campaign is part of our continued effort
to raise awareness and one that we hope will also create a meaningful
visual reference for Tibetans," says Lhamo. "Currently, the images we
use to remember him are of a young child, but he has now reached
adulthood," she says.

Lhamo says the campaign serves to emphasise the length of his captivity
he has gone - from boy to manhood - hidden from the eyes of the world.
"So all we can do to visualise him is to use our imaginations," she adds.

Lhamo says her organisation will chose one of the pieces of art and will
use it as a new emblem for its campaign materials calling for the
Panchen Lama?s release.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the successive Panchen
Lamas, and the Central Association of Panchen Lama also jointly issued a
statement Sunday asking China to provide clear information on his safety
and whereabouts.

Panchen Lama is revered as the second highest tulku lineage in the
Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the most influential
spiritual leaders of Tibet.

Traditionally, the Panchen Lama bears part of the responsibility for
finding the incarnation of the Dalai Lama and vice versa, a practice
many say has prompted China to install another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, as
the Panchen Lama.

Gyaltsen, who is generally not recognised by Tibetans, is being used by
Beijing to supplant the Dalai Lama as the public face of Tibetan
Buddhism in Tibet and elsewhere in China. In recent years he has taken
on an increasingly political role and was recently appointed to China's
top government advisory body.
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