(TibetanReview.net, Apr27, 2014) – The Tibetan administration in exile at Dharamsala, India, on Apr 25 marked the 25th birthday of the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Niyma, Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure, who has remained disappeared ever since the Chinese government kidnapped him and his family on May 17, 1995. It reiterated its call on the Chinese government to release him at a function held at the Tsuglakhang, the main Buddhist temple at Dharamsala.
China took away the then six-year-old 11th Panchen Lama after the Dalai Lama’s formally announced his recognition of him on May 14, 1995 and appointed another boy, named as Gyaltsen Norbu and whose parents were both communist party members, as the 11th Panchen Lama. Today, as Gedhun Choekyi Nyima continues to remain disappeared, Gyaltsen Norbu has been given several religious and political posts under the Chinese government while being kept in Beijing.
The Panchen Lamas traditionally reside at their seat of Tashi Lhunpo monastery, located in southern Tibet’s Shigatse city. An exile version of the monastery is located at the Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe Town, Karnataka state of India. A function held there to mark the disappeared Panchen Lama’s birthday was attended by the head of the exile Tibetan Administration, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, as well as top Tibetan religious figures, including the Ganden Tripa Rizong Sey Rinpoche.
The issue of the disappeared Panchen Lama was taken up with the Chinese government by the relevant UN human rights officials, committees and working groups as well as numerous government leaders and human rights groups from around the world over many years. However, China has refused to respond positively to any of the enquiries while insisting that he and his family were doing fine and did not want to be disturbed