Dharamsala prays for the Panchen Lama
26 April, 2001: Tibetan exiles and their supporters in Dharamsala yesterday commemorated the 12th birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama.
The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), and the National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT), jointly organised a daylong programme at the main bazaar, Mcloed Ganj.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) organised a postcard petition, calling upon the UN and other International bodies to prevail on the Chinese authorities to ensure the release of the Panchen Lama. Simultaneously, TCHRD also had a quilt-making and a toy project. The quilt-making project involved stitching your design for a symbolic quilt for Panchen Lama and the toy project involved three travellers, who were given a toy each and was asked to pass on the toy with the story of Panchen Lama to another in their travel. Through these projects “it is hoped that people can pass on the message of the young Panchen Rinpoche”, and these activities also becomes “rallying point for people from different corners of the globe to come together and contribute to our just cause”, said Tenzin Chokey of TCHRD.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his parents disappeared a day after His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognised the boy as the 11th Panchen Lama, on 14 May 1995. The Beijing government then named a boy belonging to party cadre as the ‘official’ Panchen Lama.
Last year during the human rights talks held at Beijing between China and the visiting European Union diplomats, the Chinese Foreign Ministry officials showed two photographs purportedly of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. The photographs which showed a boy playing table tennis and writing Chinese characters on a blackboard was shown across a large conference table, making them difficult to access.
In a similar forum in London the Chinese officials showed but did not hand over the photographs to the British officials. Their request to visit the boy was denied saying that the boy’s family “did not want him to be disturbed by foreign figures and media.”
In a situation where a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council “can lay claim to be holding the world’s youngest political prisoner demands clear consensus and decisive action on the part of the International Community”, said TCHRD in a press release.
More than 500 people participated in the candlelight vigil and prayers for the safety of Panchen Lama which took place at the end of the day, in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence.