(TibetanReview.net, May19, 2017) – With absolutely no news about him, including whether he was even alive, thus far, exile Tibetans across the world marked on May 17 the 22nd anniversary of the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure, after the Dalai Lama. The then six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was taken away, with his family, by the Chinese government after the Dalai Lama formally declared on May 14, 1995 his solemn finding that the boy was the true reincarnation of the late 10th Panchen Lama.
At Dharamshala, the exile Tibetan administration launched a four-minute video titled ‘Ten Facts About the Missing Panchen Lama’ featuring an interview with Dr Abishek Singhvi, a Spokesperson for the Indian National Congress and a prominent lawyer.
“The more they suppress the concept of Panchen Lama, the more they appoint a puppet Panchen Lama of the Chinese liking, the more they create a permanent anger and a permanent repulsion in the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people,” Singhvi says in the video.
Also at Dharamshala, the centre of the exile Tibetan administration and residence of the Dalai Lama since May 1960, hundreds of Tibetans, led by the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), staged a protest march from McLeod Ganj to downtown Kacheri district court complex.
The marchers carried signs whose texts included ‘Where is the 11th Panchen Lama? Only China can answer’. And they shouted slogans such as ‘Where is Tibet Penchen Lama?’ ‘UN, we want justice!’ ‘Release Penchen Lama!’ and ‘People of the world, Support us!’
TWA demanded that Chinese government release a latest picture of the true 11th Panchen Lama, that he be released and allowed to be met by a representative of an independent body such as United Nations. TWA also approached consulates and embassies of various countries as well as the United Nations Representative office in New Delhi to ask them to pressure the Chinese government on the issue.
Students for a Free Tibet and the regional chapters of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and the TWA organized a street play depicting the Chinese government’s abduction of the young Lama.
In Mysuru (formerly Mysore) in Karnataka state, hundreds of Tibetans from the Tibetan settlements in Bylakuppe, Hunsur and Kollegal staged a rally through the main streets of the city, demanding justice for Panchen Lama.
Protest rallies were held by Tibetans at numerous other locations across India as well as in other countries.
China maintains that the person recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama leads a normal life, that he does not want to be disturbed, and insists that he is not the Panchen Lama but an ordinary boy, while steadfastly denying all requests, including from UN rights officials, foreign diplomats, and others to see him. China has appointed its own 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, whom it keeps and grooms in Beijing rather than at Tashi Lhunpo, the traditional seat in Shigatse city of Tibet of the successive Panchen Lamas. On Feb 3, 2010, he was made a vice-president of the Buddhist Association of China and later that month, at 20, Norbu became the youngest member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which supposedly advices the Chinese National People’s Congress, China’s rubberstamp parliament, on political matters