US congressional rights body’s co-chair reiterates call for 11th Panchen Lama’s release

Buddhist nuns carry placards during a protest march demanding the release of religious leader Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, who was put under house arrest by the Chinese authorities on this day in 1995. Panchen Lama is the second most important religious leader in Tibetan Buddhism, after the Dalai Lama. ( Photo courtesy: Ashwini Bhatia/AP)

(, Apr26’21) – As Tibetans marked the 32nd birthday of their second most prominent religious figure who remains disappeared by China since 1995 when he was 6 years old, US Congressman Jim McGovern, Co-chair of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, has reiterated his call for his unconditional release.

He has described Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Pachen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, as a person imprisoned by China because of who he is.

Bon on Apr 25, 1989, China dispatched him and his family into oblivion on May 17, 1995, three days after Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, proclaimed his recognition of him as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama.

Rep. Jim McGovern, Congressman for the Second District of Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy: Jim McGovern)

In his statement for the occasion, McGovern has said, “The Commission’s mandate is to promote and defend the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And one of the many things the commission does is advocate the release of Prisoners of Conscience around the world. Prisoners of conscience are people whose freedom has been taken away from them without any real justification even though they’ve neither used nor advocated violence. Often people are imprisoned because of who they are. Sadly, there are many prisoners of conscience in the world. And one of them is Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Pachen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism.”

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (formerly Tom Lantos Human Rights Caucus) is a bipartisan body in the United States House of representatives.

China’s stock response to all queries, including from the United Nations human rights officials and bodies, for the last 26 years has been that “he and his family are alive and well” and that he did not wish to be disturbed.

McGovern has accused China of controlling the existence and true identity of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.

“My birthday present to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is the same as every year to renew my call for his immediate and unconditional freedom and that of his family as well”, he has said, adding “no government is justified in doing what the Chinese government is doing.”

“He should be free because he has the moral and legal right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion including the right to practice his religion as he chooses. He should be freed because he is still a young man and is the right thing to do. So happy birthday Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. May this year be the year we have the privilege to meet in person.”


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