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China’s Panchen snubbed by Tibetans in Sichuan?

(TibetanReview.net, Jul27’21) – Except for designated officials, the Tibetans public in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) and Ngawa (Aba) Prefectures of Sichuan Province ignored orders to turn out in large numbers during the visit earlier this month of the Chinese government-appointed 11th Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jul 26.

Citing a text message from a local source, the report said Gyaltsen Norbu, chosen by China in 1995 as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama as a rebuff against the Dalai Lama for having recognized another boy, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, as the 11th Panchen Lama, had gone to Kardze on Jul 12 to participate in a religious conference.

The report quoted the source as saying, apparently referring to local TV reports: “He was also seen making a visit to Ngaba Barkham, Dzoege, and Khungchu, where Tibetans were told to show up and greet him. But unlike other religious figures whom Tibetans revere and approach to receive blessings, no Tibetans showed up to welcome him.”

“The only people who came to see him were those whose attendance had been specifically arranged by the Chinese,” the source was further quoted as saying.

“My contacts back home told me that abbots and religious figures in monasteries in the region had been coerced into receiving and greeting the Panchen Lama, also being ordered to pose for pictures with him,” the report quoted Shel Gedhun Tsering, a former Tibetan political prisoner now living in Australia, as saying.

Residents of the areas visited by Gyaltsen Norbu were reported to have widely derided him as “China’s Panchen”.

The general movement of the local Tibetans was reported to have been restricted by authorities including with orders to keep the streets free of cars.

The Panchen Lama is Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure and, like the Dalai Lama, belongs to the predominant Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism.

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