(TibetanReview.net, May19’20) – In the backdrop of the ongoing war of words between the USA and China over the latter’s responsibility for the devastating Covid-19 pandemic that is still ravaging the world, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued a strongly-worded statement, calling for immediate information on the whereabouts of Tibet’s disappeared second most prominent religious figure, the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, and his release. Australian MPs have also added their voices to the global clamour for his release.
The occasion was the completion of 25 years since the Chinese government abducted him as a six-year-old boy and his family on May 17, 1995, three days after the Dalai Lama proclaimed his recognition of him as the reincarnation of the late 10th Panchen Lama.
China went on to install another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, as the 11th Panchen Lama and has been grooming him in Beijing for the role.
In his statement, the Secretary of state also reiterated the United States’s concerns over China’s ongoing campaign to eliminate the religious, linguistic and cultural identity of Tibetans.
“China’s persecution of the Panchen Lama is not unusual. The United States remains deeply concerned about the PRC’s ongoing campaign to eliminate the religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of Tibetans, including through the ongoing destruction of communities of worship and learning, such as the Larung Gar and Yachen Gar Buddhist Institutes,” said Pompeo in his statement.
He has noted that “Tibetan Buddhists, like members of all faith communities, must be able to select, educate, and venerate their religious leaders according to their traditions and without government interference.”
And he called on the PRC government “to immediately make public the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons.”
Meanwhile several members of the Australian Parliament have added their voice to the internationally reverberating call on China to account for the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama and to release him forthwith in video messages.
Warren Entsch, Co-chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, has called on the Chinese government to let the Panchen Lama of Tibet free on the 25th anniversary of his disappearance. He has called the story of the Panchen Lama a stark representation of the violation of religious freedom in Tibet.
Susan Templeman, Labour co-chair of Parliamentary Tibet Friendship Group, has said that 25 years of imprisonment of the Panchen Lama is unjustifiable for any person, especially when that is “through no fault of his own”.
Senator Nick McKim, co-deputy leader of the Australian Greens and member of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Tibet, has said, “the story of the Panchen Lama exposes the brutal reality of the Chinese government’s occupation and invasion of Tibet.”
“The international community seems to not know what is happening in Tibet simply because the Chinese government has cut Tibet off from the rest of the world and away from the gaze of the international community. The Chinese government to this day continues to destroy Tibetan culture, their way of life, and the beautiful environment of Tibet. We need to stand up for Tibet and we need to stand up for the Panchen Lama. The Australian Greens urge the Australian government to raise these issues publicly and to raise these issues directly with the Chinese government.”