29 years on, exiled Tibetans reiterate call to release Panchen Lama - Hindustan Times
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29 years on, exiled Tibetans reiterate call to release Panchen Lama

By, Dharamshala
May 18, 2024 09:10 AM IST

The 35th birthday of the spiritual leader, considered by Tibetans to be second only to the Dalai Lama, was marked on April 25. When he was abducted by China in 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was only six-years-old

The Tibetans living in exile in Dharamshala on Friday reiterated their call for the Chinese government to release the 11th Panchen Lama, who was abducted in 1995, as they marked his 29th enforced disappearance day.

Tibetans marked the 29th enforced disappearance day of Panchen Lama. (HT File)
Tibetans marked the 29th enforced disappearance day of Panchen Lama. (HT File)

Tibetans in-exile assembled in Dharamshala on Friday morning to hold a protest against China and ask for the whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama, while the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) held a protest march.

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The 35th birthday of the spiritual leader, considered by Tibetans to be second only to the Dalai Lama, was marked on April 25. When he was abducted by China in 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was only six-years-old.

The Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), based at Dharamshala, in a statement said, “On 14 May 1995, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama had publicly announced the young boy as the 11th Panchen Lama and officially bestowed him the name Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo. Three days later, on May 17, the young Panchen Lama ‘disappeared’ along with his parents and Chadrel Rinpoche, the abbot of the Panchen Lama’s seat at Tashi Lhunpo monastery.”

Tenzin Lekshay, the spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), said, “We condemn China’s prolonged enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama and reiterate our call on the PRC government to immediately release the Panchen Lama who has remained in captivity for 29 years.”

“Where else would it be possible, but under the PRC government that an adult is kept completely oblivious of what is happening and hidden from the face of the earth that there is not even a single reliable information or photo of the abducted Panchen Lama of recent times? We demand the PRC government to release verifiable information of the well-being and the location of the Panchen Lama, and that of his parents and Chadrel Rinpoche. Until the light of truth is shined, we will continue to demand for their freedom,” he said.

In 2015, a Chinese government spokesperson claimed the Panchen Lama was receiving education like other children. A team of UN human rights experts said in a report that they had been told by Chinese officials in June 2020 that the spiritual leader had passed a college entrance examination and had a job.

As the CTA, last month, observed his birthday in absentia, along with many others around the world, it said that the CTA’s efforts in advocating for the Panchen Lama’s release will continue as long as the PRC continues to keep him “disappeared”.

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