(TibetanReview.net, May22’20) – Following China’s suggestion May 19 that the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was not only alive but had now also passed the college entrance examination and had a job, the United States has on May 21 asked to meet with him to see the situation for itself. The Chinese assurance followed a strongly worded statement May 18 from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as clamours from lawmakers from a number of democratic countries and others. Meanwhile, political leaders and lawmakers from countries across the world have continued to query China about the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts while also demanding his release.
“This Administration would welcome the opportunity to meet with the Panchen Lama in person,” the Tibetan Service of rfa.org May 21 quoted a State Department spokesman as saying.
Noting that only Beijing so far knew the answers to questions asked around the world about the circumstances of the high-ranking religious leader’s detention since 1995, the spokesman has said, “We urge the PRC government to release immediately the details of the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts, which have remained unknown since his forced disappearance by Chinese authorities in 1995.”
China also said, as before, that neither the now-31-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Niyma nor his family wished to be disturbed in their “current normal lives.”
It also warned the US against “using Tibet matters to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
Nevertheless, noting the importance of the Panchen Lama in the pantheon of Tibetan spiritual leaders, the unnamed State Department spokesman has said, “We again urge the PRC government to cease interfering in the right of the Tibetans to select, educate, and venerate their own religious leaders. All faith communities share this right, and it must be respected.”
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, then six years old, was recognized and proclaimed by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama on May 14, 1995 from his exile home at Dharamsala, India. Three days later, on May 17, China abducted him and his family and they have remained disappeared ever since. So also Chadrel Rinpoche, the Chinese government appointed head of the search committee for the reincarnation, on apparent suspicion that he had communicated his findings to the Dalai Lama.
Meanwhile, President VF Hlabisa of South Africa’s Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has also issued a statement, calling for information on the whereabouts and release of the 11th Panchen Lama.
“South Africa’s experience under the apartheid of activists ‘going missing’, never to be heard from again, has heightened our sensitivity to this particular atrocity against human rights,” he has said.
The IFP, therefore, supports the continuous call by human rights organisations throughout the world for the release of Tibet’s Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who was named the Panchen Lama in May 1995 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he has added.
Also, 21 Canadian Members of Parliament and a Senator have on May 21 signed a letter, calling for Ottawa’s support for the immediate release of the Panchen Lama and his entire family, and for an independent fact-finding mission to assess the human rights violations perpetrated against Tibetans in Tibet and other regions in China.
The MPs were Conservative Party members Garnett Genuis, Ziad Aboultaif, Colin Carrie, Kerry Diotte, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Jasraj Singh Hallan, Marty Morantz, Scott Reid, Nelly Shin, Karen Vecchio, Arnold Viersen, and Cathay Wagantall; Green Party members Paul Manly, Elizabeth May, and Jenica Atwin; Liberal Party members Arif Virani, James Maloney, Larry Bagnell, and Sven Spengemann; and National Democratic Party member Randall Garrison. And the Senator was Mobina Jaffer.