May 29, 2020
Published By Bureau Reporter
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Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

Dharamshala: Exactly twenty-five years ago on this day, the Chinese authorities abducted the 6-year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima just three days after His Holiness the Dalai Lama officially recognized him as the 11th Panchen Lama. Since then, every year Panchen Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s birthday was marked in absentia and 17 May, the day he was forcefully disappeared along with his parents, turned into a reoccurring and relentless global call upon China for their release. The Chinese government has maintained that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is leading a “very good life” and doing well but without providing a single evidence to verify its claim in all these years.

Twenty-five years on, the call continues, joined and amplified by prominent government officials, Members of Parliaments, and international rights organizations around the globe. They have voiced concerns over the Panchen Lama’s continued enforced disappearance and asked China to release him, his parents and Tibetan prisoners of conscience. 

“This issue continues to be raised by the US government and will continue to be raised by the US government, ” remarked US Ambassador Sam Brownback in an interview to AFP.  The US Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said, “No, we do not have any idea of the whereabouts, and yes, we continue to press the Chinese authorities to release the Panchen Lama and let him free (…and) let the world know where he is. And this takes on, I think, an increased interest and focus and importance as China continues to assert – the Chinese Communist Party continues to assert their right to appoint the next Dalai Lama, and – which they do not have the right to do.”

US Congressman Jim McGovern renews call for the Panchen Lama’s immediate and unconditional freedom.

US Congressman Jim McGovern, co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission called for the immediate release of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in a statement released last month on the Panchen Lama’s 31st birthday. Rep McGovern said, “He should be free because as a confined person he is likely at higher risk from the coronavirus that is claiming the lives of people. He should be free because he has the right under international law to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion including the right to practise his religion as he chooses. He should be free because he is still a young man and it is the right thing to do so happy birthday Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. May this year be the year we have the privilege to meet you in person.”

USCIRF Calls for Release of the Panchen Lama.

Similarly, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in commemoration of missing Panchen Lama’s 31st birthday renewed its call for the Chinese government to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, one of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience. “The Panchen Lama of Tibet has been kept isolated since he was a child and denied the opportunity to live a normal life. We urge the Chinese government to show a video evidence of his safety during this COVID-19 pandemic out of human dignity and free the Panchen Lama immediately,” remarked USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee.

Statement by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China tweeted, “The Chairs call for the release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, on his 31st birthday and his parents Dechen Choedron and Konchog Phuntsog, 25 years after their forced disappearances. The Chinese government has international obligation to protect the human rights of all Tibetans.

MP Tim Loughton of the UK Parliament and Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet (APPGT)/Facebook/Tim Loughton

Joining in the call for the immediate release of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, the UK Parliament Member and Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, MP Tim Loughton called out the Chinese government that mere reassurance is “not enough” and to “release and reveal” Panchen Lama to the world. MP Loughton also called out China to rectify their repressive measures that have cost the lives of millions of Tibetans who had to witness the daily suppression of their culture, religious beliefs, language, and basically their ways of life. The UK parliamentarian pointed out that such atrocity by the Chinese government, by all means, is an injustice that the world needs to stand up to.

Member of the Lithuanian Parliament and head of Provisional Group for Solidarity with Tibetans MP Dr. Andrius Navickas urged Lithuanian President and the Foreign Affairs Minister to press China to reveal reliable information about the Panchen Lama’s wellbeing. “Various international organizations have repeatedly asked China about the fate of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family, but each time it has responded by cynical lies. To date, however, the world community has no confirmed knowledge regarding the 11th Panchen Lama – whether he is alive and what his current identity is,” said Dr. Navickas. He further stated, “On the 17th of May this year, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the abduction of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, by now he should be 31 years old. The Tibetan government in exile and Tibetan organizations around the world call on the public to commemorate this sad anniversary and remind the Chinese Communist regime of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, a prisoner of conscience.”

Dr. Andrius Navickas, Member of Lithuanian parliament and head of Provisional Group for Solidarity with Tibetans at the Lithuanian Parliament urges President HE Gitanas Nausėda and Foreign affairs Minister to press China to reveal reliable information about the Panchen Lama’s wellbeing. Photo/Facebook

Joining the global call for Panchen Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s release, 15 Parliamentarians of Switzerland issued a joint statement in three languages. The parliamentarians: Maya Graf, Lisa Mazzone and Carlo Sommaruga of Council of States; and Laurence Fehlmann Rielle, Claudia Friedl, Balthasar Glättli, Nik Gugger, Barbara Gysi, Beat JansIrène Kälin, Fabian Molina, Martina Munz, Nicolas Walder and Cédric Wermuth of the National Council Prisca Birrer-Heimo, who are also members of Switzerland’s Parliamentary Group for Tibet, urged the Chinese government to “respect human rights in Tibet including cultural and religious freedom.” The Parliamentarians pressed the Chinese government to “resume dialogue with the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for peaceful resolution of Tibet.” They also expressed deep respect for the Tibetan culture and the peaceful resistance of Tibetan people and undertook to “stand in solidarity with the Tibetan people.”

A similar statement was released by 12 Czech Parliamentarians: Chamber of Deputies: František Kopříva (co-chair of Czech Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet- Chamber of Deputies), Dana Balcarová, Jan Čižinský, Jakub Janda, Lenka Kozlová, Tomáš Martínek, Jakub Michálek, Vít Rakušan, Olga Richterová, Ondřej Veselý, Tomáš Vymazal and Marek Výborný. The statement highlighted the fact that Tibetans were “forced to celebrate the 31st birthday” of 11th Panchen Lama “without even knowing whether he is alive or not,” and called the enforced disappearance of Panchen Lama and his family for 25 years a “continuous crime being perpetrated by China not only against Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family but also against all the Tibetans who are deprived of their religious leader.” 

First Row (L to R): Members of Chamber of Deputies- František Kopříva (co-chair of Czech Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet- Chamber of Deputies), Olga Richterová, Lenka Kozlová , Dana Balcarová, Jakub Janda, Vít Rakušan. Second Row (L to R) Members of Chamber of Deputies: Ondřej Veselý, Marek Výborný, Jan Čižinský, Tomáš Vymazal, Jakub Michálek, Tomáš Martínek.

“Tibet is consistently ranked as the second least free region in the world and the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief has ranked China as one of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world in 2018. Not just Tibetan Buddhists, even Uighur Muslims and Christians are also facing religious persecution by China,” read the statement.

Separately, 16 Czech Senators signed a joint statement calling for the release of Panchen Lama. The Senators’ joint statement read, “WE the undersigned members of Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic express our support and solidarity for Tibet and its people for their non-violent movement to find justice, peace and freedom for Tibet.” The Senators reiterated their calls to China “to respect the rights of Tibetan people and their unique cultural identity” and called upon China to “reveal the whereabouts and the well-beings of Panchen Lama of Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and release him and his family unconditionally.” The 16 signatories are the 1st Vice-President of the Czech Republic Senat Jiri Ruzicka, Vice President of the Senate Miluše Horská, Vice president of the Senate Jan Hornik, Vice President of the Senate Jiri Oberfalzer, Chair of the Tibet Support Group in the Senate Senator Premysl Rabas, Senator David Smoljak, Senator Marek Hilšer, Senator Vaclav Chaloupek, Senator Jitka Seitlova, Senator Zdenek Papousek, Senator Lukas Wagenknecht, Senator Jiri Dienstbier, Senator Tomas Czernin, Senator Miroslav Balatka, Senator Renata Chmelova, Senator Jiri Drahos. 

Czech Senators sign the joint statement calling for the release of Panchen Lama.

Four other Czech Parliamentarians recorded video messages observing the anniversary. In the video messages, Senator Premysl Rabas, chair of Czech Parliamentarian Support Group for Tibet, Senator Marek Hilser, Senator Vaclav Chaloupek and Mr. Frantisek Kopriva, Member of Chamber of Deputies and co-chair of Czech Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet, appealed to the Chinese government to release Panchen Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family. “However hard Beijing tries to remove the Panchen Lama of Tibet from people’s head and heart, Tibet’s Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima will not be forgotten,” said Senator Chaloupek in his message.

Expressing serious concerns over “China’s continues disregard of its international human rights obligations,” the Italian Parliamentarians; Senator Roberto Rampi, and Member of Chamber of Deputies and coordinator for Inter-Parliamentary Group Italy for Tibet, Mr Luciano Nobili, Members of Chamber of Deputies Mr Matteo Luigi Bianchi and Antonella Incerti, pressed the Chinese authorities to “immediately reveal the fate and whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima” and to “respect Tibetans’ right to freedom of religion and right to choose their own religious heads without governmental interference.” The Parliamentarians further emphasized that China has suppressed Tibetans’ right to religious freedom in Tibet for the last six decades in order to abuse the religious institutions as “a means to gain control over Tibetans.” 

First row (L to R)- Member of Italian Senate of the Republic Senator Roberto Rampi and Member of Chamber of Deputies and co-ordinator for Inter-Parliamentary Group Italy for Tibet, Mr Nobili Luciano – IV; Second Row (L to R)- Members of Chamber of Deputies Mr Matteo Luigi Bianchi and Antonella Incerti.

Additionally, Senator Roberto Rampi, Mr. Luciano Nobili and Mr. Matteo Luigi Bianchi also recorded video messages calling the enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama by China as “one of the most terrible human rights crimes in the world,” “a very serious story that still bleeds and is a violation of all civil and democratic laws,” and that “the credibility of China is under serious question at the moment, respectively. 

German Parliamentarians joined the global call upon China to release Panchen Lama and to enter into serious dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his representatives. The four Members of the Parliament who are also the Human Rights Policy Committee spokespersons for the four largest German parties in Bundestag; Mr. Michael Brand, Mr. Frank Schwabe, Ms. Gyde Jensen, and Ms. Margarete Bause in a joint statement stated, “25 years ago, the Chinese Communist leadership abducted the then six-year-old Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, whom we demand to be released immediately.” The Parliamentarians also urged the Chinese government to allow the UN representatives and observers to contact Panchen Lama and to respect the rights of the Tibetans to choose their own religious heads.

First Row L to R: Mr. Michael Brand, Human Rights Policy Spokesperson for Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU)/ The Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSUU), Mr. Frank Schwabe Human Rights Policy Spokesperson for The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP)
Second row (L to R) Ms. Gyde Jensen Human Rights Policy Spokesperson for The Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Ms. Margarete Bause, Human Rights Policy Spokesperson for Bündnis 90 /Die Grünen (Alliance90/The Greens.)

The Estonian Parliamentary Group for Tibet of the Riigikogu who also reiterated the call for the release of the Panchen Lama and other prisoners of conscience, urged the Beijing government to open negotiations without preconditions with the spiritual leader of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama. “We call on all freedom-loving nations and the global community to put pressure on the Communist Government of China to release the Tibetan prisoners of conscience, and to ensure freedom of religion and freedom of speech on the whole territory ruled by the regime. This is possible only through negotiations where the representatives of Tibet in exile are involved,” stated the statement by the members of the Tibet Support Group of the Riigikogu.

A group of 22 Slovak Parliamentarians, including Deputy Speakers of the Parliament Mr. Gábor Grendel and Mr. Juraj Šeliga, condemned the enforced disappearance of Panchen Gedhun Choekyi Nyima by China. The Parliamentarians called for his immediate release along with his entire family and other Tibetan political prisoners in a joint statement signed by the two Deputy Speakers and twenty parliamentarians: Peter Osuský, Miroslav Kollár, Ondrej Dostál, Radovan Kazda Vladimíra Marcinková, Peter Pollák , Miroslav Žiak, Jarmila Halgašová, Anna Zemanová, Dominik Drdul, Kristián Čekovský, Juraj Krúpa, Jana Žitňanská, Marian Viskupič, Peter Cmorej, Ján Benčík, Anna Záborská, Vladimír Ledecký, Romana Tabak and Monika Kozelová. The Parliamentarians noted the fact that China has not divulged any sufficient, satisfactory information about the Panchen Lama and his family in the last 25 years, and called it a “tragic milestone evincing the continuous crime being perpetrated by China not only against Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family but also against all the Tibetans.” The Parliamentarians urged the Slovak government, the European Union and the United Nations to press China to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his entire family.

First Row (L to R): Deputy Speakers of Slovak Parliament Mr. Gábor Grendel and Mr. Juraj Šeliga, Slovak Parliamentarians Peter Osuský and Miroslav Kollár; Second Row (L to R): Slovak Parliamentarians Ondrej Dostál, Radovan Kazda, Vladimíra Marcinková and Peter Pollák; Third Row (L to R): Slovak Parliamentarians Miroslav Žiak, Jarmila Halgašová, Anna Zemanová, Dominik Drdul, Kristián Čekovský, Juraj Krúpa and Jana Žitňanská; Last Row (L to R): Slovak Parliamentarians Marian Viskupič, Peter Cmorej, Ján Benčík, Anna Záborská, Vladimír Ledecký, Romana Tabak and Monika Kozelová; All photos were retrieved from Slovak Parliament website.

Besides the political leaders from across the world, several well-known international organizations and civil societies notably, Human Rights Watch, UN Watch, Amnesty International, Society for Threatened Peoples, The Unrepresented People’s Organization, Citizens Power Initiatives for China, and Forum 2000, have reiterated the global call for the Panchen Lama’s release as well. Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Rights Watch wrote, “The Chinese government needs to show genuine respect for the Tibetan religion, its believers and its current leaders, starting with the current Dalai Lama. Without that, the evidence so far is that Chinese authorities’ enforced parading of innocent abductees as its proxies in Tibet will not gain support from the Tibetan public or others concerned about religious freedom.” 

The UN Watch tweeted, “25 years ago: China kidnapped 6-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 2nd most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism & world’s youngest political prisoner-whereabouts unknown. Now: China just joined the UN panel that selects members of the UN committee on enforced disappearance.”

Amnesty International, Czech Republic joined the global campaign by posting support on their Facebook page urging the Czech Republic Foreign Affairs Minister “to put pressure on China. Human rights in Tibet must not be trampled and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family must be released.” 

In a press release, Society for Threatened People has asked the Chinese government to “finally announce what happened to the 11th Panchen Lama.” “Instead of the rightful Panchen Lama, the Chinese government has appointed a five-year-old Tibetan named Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama. He is used by the government in Beijing as a puppet for the alleged proof that there is freedom of belief in China, ” explains Hanno Schedler, GfbV consultant for genocide prevention and responsibility for protection. 

Citizens Power Initiatives for China also issued a statement stating, “We condemn China’s continued colonizing policy in Tibet and call on the world democracies to confront China on the issue of Tibet. On the religious level, the world democracies do not have, and neither do Chinese who are not Tibetan Buddhists, the right to interfere with the decisions regarding the succession of the Panchen Lama or that of the Dalai Lama, which absolutely rests with the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and the people of Tibet.” 

The Unrepresented People’s Organization (UNPO) also published an article on its website and said, “This case is one of the most symbolic examples of China’s assault on human rights and freedom of religion, “and called on the “international community to hold China accountable for its crimes under international law.” 

Moreover, 159 organizations from 19 countries have submitted a joint petition to the UN in this regard, calling for intervention and pressing China to release Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.

The Central Tibetan Administration’s Cabinet or the Kashag released a statement today on the 25th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of His Eminence the 11th Panchen Lama. “For a person to spend the prime of his life or quarter of a century in enforced captivity is an irreparable loss. The disappearance of the Panchen Lama is not only an injustice to one person, but it is an injustice to six million Tibetans and their right to religious freedom,” it said. “China must honour its claim of ethnic harmony in China by fulfilling the aspiration of the Tibetan people. It must right the wrong and release the 11th Panchen Lama along with his family, Chadrel Rinpoche, and all Tibetans unjustly imprisoned,” read the Kashag statement.

 

On 8 April, Belgian Federal Parliament member Mr Samuel Cogolati issued a statement on Panchen Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s continued disappearance and urged the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense to call on China to release him without conditions. Mr Cogolati also questioned the Minister on Belgium’s stand on the issue. In a response dated 25 April, the Foreign Minister Mr. Philippe Goffin said he shared the concern over the human rights situation in Tibet and on the enforced disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima for 25 years. The Foreign Minister further stated that it was up to the Tibetan religious community itself to designate the Panchen Lama, without interference from the political authorities. “I will continue to monitor the human rights situation in Tibet closely. Belgium will also continue to contribute constructively to a coordinated EU position,” assured Minister Goffin to Mr. Cogolati in his reply. 

Marking the 31st birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, as well as the 25th anniversary of his disappearance, 32 European Parliament members wrote a joint letter urging the European Commission to press China to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima without any conditions. “Since recurring human rights abuses from China needs to be addressed, we urge the European Commission to call upon the Chinese government to finally ensure freedom of religion and belief in Tibet, by freeing Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his parents immediately without any conditions, together with all Tibetan political prisoners,” 

The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) under the leadership of MEP Mikuláš Peksa, President of Tibet Interest Group wrote to the EU Foreign Affairs Chief Mr Borrel. Mr Borrel is yet to issue a response at this moment. 

The joint letter was co-signed by: Alviina Alametsä, Patrick Breyer, Reinhard Bütikofer, Isabel Carvalhais, Antoni Comín i Oliveres, Petra De Sutter, Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Tanja Fajon, Raphael Gluksmann, Francisco Guerreiro, José Gusmão, Svenja Hahn, Heidi Hautala, Hannes Heihe, Marcel Kolaja, Miriam Lexmann, Aušra Maldeikienė, Marisa Matias, Tilly Metz, Javier Nart, Clara Ponsati i Obiois, Cales Puigdemont i Casamajo, Diana Riba i Giner, Isabel Santos, Ivan Štefanec, Riho Terras, Marie Toussaint, Alexandr Vondra, Salima Yenbou, Tomáš Zdechovský, and Milan Zver. 

Meanwhile, on 23 April, Mr. Ross Greer, member of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Cross-Party Group on Tibet tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament highlighting the case of the 11th Panchen Lama’s enforced disappearance. In the motion, Mr. Greer expressed concern “that independent experts have not, it believes, been permitted to meet Gedhun and verify this information since his abduction in 1995,” and called on “the UK Government to raise the wellbeing of Gedhun and his family through diplomatic means.”

MSP Ross Greer and MSP Linda Fabiani as the convenors of the Cross-Party Group on Tibet have written to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that the UK government raises the issue of the Panchen Lama with the Chinese government. “We would, therefore, appreciate it if you could raise the issue with the Chinese government and use whatever diplomatic means necessary to ensure that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s rights are respected and critically, that his welfare and that of his family is verified by independent observers,” they stated in the letter.

In this global call for the release of Panchen Lama, the Australian Parliamentary Group for Tibet sends a strong video message to the Chinese government holding them accountable for the gross violation of human rights in Tibet and the rights of Panchen Lama.

MP Warren Entsch, Co-chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet (APPGT) shared that his experience of having met Tibetan political prisoners in the past has revealed a lot about the suffering faced by Tibetan people.

He noted that the story of the Panchen Lama starkly represents the violation of religious freedom in Tibet in addition to illicit interference in the religious tradition of the Tibetan people.

“On the 25th anniversary of his disappearance, I call on the Chinese government to let the Panchen Lama of Tibet free”, he said. 

MP Susan Templeman, Labour co-chair of Parliamentary Tibet Friendship Group stated that her party believes in the rights of all people to live in peace and freedom wherever they are including the ethnic-religious minorities in China such as the Tibetans. She added, “the world knows about the Dalai Lama but not so much about the 31-year-old Panchen Lama and that’s because he is held captive in prison by China for the last 25 years.”

She stressed that 25 years of imprisonment is unjustifiable for any person, especially when that is “through no fault of his own”. She voiced her support to the Australia Tibet Council’s campaign to help free the Panchen Lama. 

Senator Nick McKim, co-deputy leader of the Australian Greens and member of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Tibet, highlighted the oppressive conditions of political prisoners in comparison to the distress experienced by the coronavirus-inflicted world, the latter for whom there is the hope of coming out of the situation. In contrast,  political prisoners “have no hope” forever getting freedom again especially with the case of Panchen Lama who has been under lockdown by the Chinese government for 25 years. This is a great injustice and a great tragedy not just for the Panchen Lama but for all the Tibetan people.

He added, “the story of the Panchen Lama exposes the brutal reality of the Chinese government’s occupation and invasion of Tibet,” and cited the Freedom House Index report which identified Tibet as the second least free country in the world only after Syria, for five consecutive years.

He concluded saying, “The international community seems to not know what is happening in Tibet simply because the Chinese government has cut Tibet off from the rest of the world and away from the gaze of the international community. The Chinese government to this day continues to destroy Tibetan culture, their way of life, and the beautiful environment of Tibet. We need to stand up for Tibet and we need to stand up for the Panchen Lama. The Australian Greens urge the Australian government to raise these issues publicly and to raise these issues directly with the Chinese government.”

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a strongly-worded statement on the 25th anniversary of the Panchen Lama’s enforced disappearance, demanding the Chinese government to release and “immediately make public the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts”.

“The Department of State has made the promotion and protection of religious freedom a priority, especially in China, where people of all faiths face severe repression and discrimination. As part of that mission, on May 17, we marked the 25th anniversary of the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has not appeared in public since the PRC government abducted him in 1995, at age six. 

“The Panchen [Panchen] Lama is one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism with spiritual authority second only to the Dalai Lama. But China’s persecution of the Panchen Lama is not unusual. The United States remains deeply concerned about the PRC’s ongoing campaign to eliminate the religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of Tibetans, including through the ongoing destruction of communities of worship and learning, such as the Larung Gar and Yachen Gar Buddhist Institutes. 

“Tibetan Buddhists, like members of all faith communities, must be able to select, educate, and venerate their religious leaders according to their traditions and without government interference. We call on the PRC government to immediately make public the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons.”

One of the strongest voices for the Tibetan cause, Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Chair and Cochair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China, issued a statement on the 25th anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama’s disappearance. Read the statement on CECC official website here.

“Twenty-five years ago, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, was abducted with his parents and forcibly disappeared. Since then, they have not been seen nor heard from by anyone outside of China and they are among the world’s longest detained prisoners of conscience. We call for their immediate and unconditional release and remain deeply concerned about official restrictions on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism including control over the process of reincarnation, the demolition of buildings and expulsion of religious practitioners from Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, and the implementation of Tibet’s new “ethnic unity” regulations. These policies are part of a systematic effort by Chinese authorities to eliminate the distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of the Tibetan people.

“We call on the Chinese government to uphold its international commitments to protect the rights of ethnic minorities and call on the Administration to use the tools provided by the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act (P.L. 115-330), and those included in the Tibetan Policy and Support Act

(H.R. 4331/S.2538), to support the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people.”

To mark the 25th anniversary of the disappearance of 11th Panchen Lama – Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, 21 Members of Parliament and Senator from Canada signed a letter calling for Canada’s support for the immediate release of Panchen Lama and his entire family, and for an independent fact-finding mission to assess the human rights violations perpetrated against Tibetans in Tibet and other regions in China. 

The letter highlights China’s interference in the sacred Buddhist traditions of recognizing the reincarnation of lamas and how it sets a dangerous precedent for possible interference in the process of identifying the reincarnations of future Dalai Lamas. 

List of parliamentarians who signed/endorsed the letter:

 

  • MP Randall Garrison, National Democratic Party
  • MP Paul Manly, Green Party of Canada
  • MP Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada
  • MP Jenica Atwin Green Party of Canada
  • MP Garnett Genuis, Conservative Party of Canada
  • MP Ziad Aboultaif, Conservative Party of Canada
  • MP Colin Carrie, Conservative Party of Canada
  • MP Kerry Diotte, Conservative Party of Canada
  • MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Jasraj Singh Hallan, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Marty Morantz, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Scott Reid, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Nelly Shin, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Karen Vecchio, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Arnold Viersen, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Cathay Wagantall, Conservative Party of Canada
  •  MP Arif Virani, Liberal Party of Canada
  •  MP James Maloney, Liberal Party of Canada
  •  MP Sven Spengemann, Liberal Party of Canada
  •  MP Larry Bagnell, Liberal Party of Canada
  •  Senator Mobina Jaffer

MPL President VF Hlabisa of Inkatha Freedom Party, South Africa issued a statement on the 25th anniversary of the disappearance of 11th Panchen Lama

“South Africa’s experience under the apartheid of activists ‘going missing’, never to be heard from again, has heightened our sensitivity to this particular atrocity against human rights. 

The IFP, therefore, supports the continuous call by human rights organisations throughout the world for the release of Tibet’s Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who was named the Panchen Lama in May 1995 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

MPL President VF Hlabisa of Inkatha Freedom Party, South Africa. Photo: Goggle image

 

 -Compiled by the UN, EU & Human Rights Desk, DIIR


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