The Tibetan government-in-exile has launched a solidarity campaign demanding the Chinese government should release the 10th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the second highest ranking lama in Tibetan Buddhism. Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Tashi Phuntsok, gave details about initiatives surrounding the renewed appeal for release of the religious leader who was allegedly abducted by Chinese authorities two decades ago. The secretary of CTA's international relations department, Sonam Dagpo, was also present on the occasion.
"May 17 2015 will coincide with the anniversary of the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, one of the most revered religious leaders in Tibet," said Phuntsok adding, "The Tibetan government-in-exile calls upon the international community to join us in an appeal for his release. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the day he was reported missing when he was just six years old. Till date, his whereabouts and well-being remain unknown."
On May 14, 1995 Nyima, aged six, was recognised by the Dalai Lama as the "reincarnation" of the 10th Panchen Lama. Within three days of the announcement, he was allegedly abducted by the Chinese government, making him one of the youngest political prisoners in the world.
In April 2011, the United Nations' Working Group on Enforced & Involuntary Disappearances held China responsible for his disappearance making his case that of an "enforced disappearance". "A number of human rights bodies, including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as well as the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have all called for the Panchen Lama's whereabouts to be made known. However, China has turned a deaf ear to these pleas to allow contact with the Panchen Lama and continues to detain him," said Phuntsok.
"At various times and places in Tibet's history," the CTA spokesman said, "the Panchen Lama's lineage has played a vital role in Tibetan society. The 10th Panchen Lama in particular, played a significant role in preserving Tibetan culture, tradition and language. The case of the Panchen Lama is a blatant symptom of political repression and lack of religious freedom and a vivid case of China's aggression against Tibetan people. The CTA has appealed to Tibet supporters worldwide to call for the release of the Panchen Lama and through different channels including social media."
The campaign's Facebook handle is "solidarity with tibet" and hashtag is #Releasepanchenlama.