(TibetanReview.net, May18’21) – As Tibetans marked the passage of 26 years on May 17 of the Chinese government’s abduction and disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, lawmakers and others from a number of countries have lent their voice to the clamour for his immediate release, according to the Central Tibetan Administration on its Tibet.net website May 18.
The Panchen Lama is Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure after the Dalai Lama. He was abducted by the Chinese government three days after the Dalai Lama proclaimed his recognition of six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. China installed another boy, named Gyaltsen Norbu, in his place. There has been no credible or verifiable information about Gedhun Choekyi Nyima ever since, apart from Chinese government’s claims that he was an ordinary boy and doing well but did not wish to be disturbed.
The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama have historically played a role in the recognition and education of each other’s reincarnations when they were in position to do so.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress on May 17 called on China to “release the Panchen Lama and his family without conditions”.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom also renewed its call on China to reveal the whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama. Commissioner Nadine Maenza tweeted for an independent expert to be allowed to visit and verify the wellbeing of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.
Janet Rice, an Australian MP, called for full access to independent observers to verify the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. “The Chinese Government must explain what happened to him, and give independent observers full access,” she tweeted.
Taiwanese pop singer and MP Freddy Lim tweeted for urgent freedom of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while calling on China to “disclose any real info about him and his family.”
Arif Virani, member of Canadian House of Commons, also called for the immediate release of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, saying on his Facebook post: “Have had the opportunity to directly ask the Tibetan delegation from the Tibet Autonomous Region on the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama when they visited Ottawa in 2018 to appear infront of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. They said he is fine and do not wish to be disturbed. I will continue to advocate for the Panchen Lama and hope for a day when we will see him in person amongst his people.”