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“Missing” – The Panchen Lama of Tibet

By Tenzin Samten  /  April 26, 2017;

Gendun Choekyi Nyima at the age of six

The 11th Panchen Lama – Gendun Choekyi Nyima – turned 28 years old on April 25. He remains missing since 1995. On his birth anniversary, the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile released a video entitled Missing- the Panchen Lama of Tibet featuring birthday messages and concerns from political personalities from six different countries.

“Though the Panchen Lama’s birthday is a joyous occasion, it is a sad one because Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year old boy recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1995 as the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, has been missing for over 22 years”, said Sonam Norbu Dagpo, DIIR’s International Relations Secretary.

Referring to the newly released video, Dhardon Sharling, DIIR’s Information Secretary said,“the word ‘Missing’ is significant because the Panchen Lama has been ‘missing’ for over two decades and Tibetans, Buddhists and devotees across the globe have been ‘missing’ him and have echoed their faith and aspiration to see him alive and free”.

Photo: SFT Facebook

At the main square in Mcleod Ganj in Dharamshala, non-government organisations – Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC), Regional Tibetan Women’s Association (RTWA) and Students for a Free Tibet (India) – jointly organised an awarness campaign highlighting the 11th Panchen Lama’s case of “enforced disappearance” and petitioned for signatures demanding knowledge of his whereabouts and for his immediate release. “Beijing has kept the Panchen Lama away from Tibetan people and the world for more than 20 years but we have not forgotten him”,Wangden Kyab, the President of RTYC said, speaking to Phayul.

TWA panel discussion
Photo: Phayul

In a separate panel discussion organised by the Tibetan Women’s Association, VenBagdro, a former political prisoner, and TseringTsomo, Director of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), spoke about the works of 10th Panchen Lama and the enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama. “The credit of the survival of the Tibetan culture, religion and language in Tibet goes to the 10th Panchen Lama, who tirelessly worked towards the preservation of the Tibetan identity”, said VenBagdro. TseringTsomo said that the forced abduction of the Panchen Lama represents three situations inside Tibet – the oppression, lack of freedom of religion and China’s practice of political interference in reincarnation of high lamas.

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