(TibetanReview.net, Apr27, 2016) – While Tibetans in their Chinese ruled homeland cannot even talk about it, those living in exile on Apr 25 observed the 27th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure. The Chinese government took him away, with his family, on May 17, 1995, just three days after Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, Announced his recognition of the then six-year-old boy as the authentic reincarnation of the late 10th Panchen Lama.
At the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in the Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement, Karnataka state, a statue of Songtsen Gampo, Tibet’s 33rd Yarlung Dynasty king who ruled in the 7th century, was unveiled. It was said to be a wish of the late 10th Panchen Lama to build a statue of this most powerful of ancient Tibetan kings in Tibet’s capital Lhasa before he passed away in 1989.
At Dharamshala, the regional chapters of the Tibetan Youth Congress and Tibetan Women’s Association jointly marked the day with a cake cutting and a signature campaign actions.
“The world does not know whether he is live or not, his whereabouts and what he is doing since his recognition by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Today on his 27th Birthday, we urge Chinese government to make transparency about him,” Dolma Yangchen, President of Tibetan Women’s association was quoted as saying.
The women’s association carried out a signature campaign seeking information on the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and his release.
China has in the past claimed that the Panchen Lama was alive and doing well and did not wish to be disturbed. It has refused to accede to all requests for access to him made by senior UN human rights officials and others.
China’s own 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, lives in Beijing and is brought on occasional visits to the Tibetan regions. But he not accepted by the Tibetan public as the genuine Panchen Lama.