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UN Rights experts reiterate concern over 25-year China-disappeared top Tibetan religious figure

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama.

(TibetanReview.net, Aug05’20) – The UN human rights system has, for the umpteenth time over the last more than 25 years, called on China to come clean on the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure, whom it had disappeared in May 1995. Expressing concern over his continued disappearance, five UN human rights experts and expert bodies have, in a Jun 2 communication, called on Beijing to provide “prompt and detailed information” on his whereabouts while also raising fears about its interference in the succession of the current Dalai Lama.

The communication was made public in a report Aug 1 to the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In their communication, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief have expressed “grave concern at the continued refusal by the Government of China to disclose precisely the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima,” the 11th Panchen Lama, and called for an independent monitor to visit him.

The experts have also expressed grave concern over China’s regulation of reincarnation of Tibetan living Buddhas interfered and possibly undermined “in a discriminatory way, the religious traditions and practices of the Tibetan Buddhist minority.”

On both these two counts, the experts have noted that China was in violation of “international human rights law provisions, such as the prohibition against discrimination, the right to recognition as a person before the law and to its equal protection without discrimination, the right not be deprived arbitrarily of one’s liberty, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to freely participate in cultural life.”

In Particular, the experts have noted that “the continued enforced disappearance of Mr Gedhun Cheokyi Nyima for the past 25 years contravenes several articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances including articles 2 and 7.”

The government of China has turned deaf ears to similar concerns expressed by the UN human rights system and numerous others globally over the past more than 20 years. It has insisted that the man the Tibetan people recognize as the 11th Panchen Lama was doing fine and did not wish to be disturbed and yet claimed that he was just an ordinary person.

The Dalai Lama had, in May 1995, proclaimed his recognition of the then six-year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the authentic reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. China then kidnapped him and his family to render him disappeared ever since while appointing another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, with communist party cadre-parentage, as the 11th Panchen Lama later in the year.

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