Tibetan exiles protest against Panchen Lama’s detention

May 17th, 2009 - 8:00 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, May 17 (ANI): The Regional Tibetan Women Association (RTWA) organised a peaceful protest march here on Sunday for the detention of eleventh Panchen Lama, who they allege has been held captive by China.

The eleventh Panchen Lama, also known as Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, is said to be under detention for the past 13 years.

Holding banners and raising slogans against the Chinese government, the protestors asked China to furnish verifiable information about the young Panchen Lama.

“We appeal to the United Nations (UN) and the World Human Right Organisation (WHRO) to pressurise the Chinese leaders to confirm the whereabouts of eleventh Panchen Lama. We also appeal to our international supporters, peace loving countries, NGOs and individuals to take up our cause at all levels to ensure early restoration of human rights in Tibet,” said Rinzing Ongmu, RTWA President.

Born on April 25, 1989, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was named by the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as the eleventh Panchen Lama on 14 May, 1995, when he was aged six years.

However, three days later, on May 17, he and his parents were reportedly missing.

On May, 15, 1996, the Chinese government admitted to holding the eleventh Panchen Lama and his parents in their ‘protective custody’.

Over the years, China has provided conflicting reports about the whereabouts and well being of the Panchen Lama, ranging from rumours of his death towards the late 1999 to a set of photos that Chinese officials displayed briefly, but did not hand over to European human rights activists.

Reportedly, the photos showed the young Gedhun Choekyi Nyima playing table-tennis and writing Chinese characters on a blackboard.

In 2001, the International Campaign for Tibet obtained a new photo purporting to be of 12-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. However, nothing is known of the authenticity of the photograph.

Lately, China claimed that the Panchen Lama is attending school and leading a normal life somewhere in China, and that his whereabouts are kept undisclosed to protect him, but all requests for access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima have been repeatedly refused so far.

Tibetan Government-in-exile based at Dharamsala in India claims that the young Panchen Lama and his family continue to be political prisoners, and have called him the ‘youngest political prisoner in the world’ while a few others have named him as ‘The Stolen Child of Tibet’. (ANI)

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