Despite his whereabouts remaining unknown since his abduction in 1995, Tibetans across the world continue to observe Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama’s birthday every year on April 25th, which this year marked his 28th birthday.
Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, and Students for a Free Tibet organized an awareness campaign to ‘highlight his case of enforced disappearance’ and also carried out a signature petition demanding his ‘whereabouts and release’ at the main square of Mcleod Ganj.
Hosting a panel event with former political prisoner Ven Bhagdo and Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) Director, Tsering Tsomo, panelists spoke on the works carried out by the 10th Panchen Lama and the enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama respectively.
“Despite severe political clampdown, credit of survival of Tibetan culture, religion and language in Tibet goes to the 10th Panchen Lama, who tirelessly worked towards the preservation of the Tibetan identity,” said Ven Bhagdo.
“The enforced disappearance of Gendun Choekyi Nyima boils down to three present situations inside Tibet. It shows the oppression and lack of freedom of religion in Tibet, and secondly it shows China’s practice of the political interference in reincarnation of high lamas. Lastly, through human rights perspective, it proves the illegal nature of the case,” said TCHRD director, Tsering Tsomo.
Also in accordance with his 28th birthday, seven Dharamshala-based NGO’s, including Utsang Province Association, Dotoe Province Association, Domei Province Association, Tibetan United Society and others, wrote to both the United Nations Secretary and the President of the European Parliament appealing action and justice for the abducted Panchen Lama.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was just six years old when he was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, one of Tibet's most important religious leaders. Just after Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family were taken into custody by the Chinese authorities and he has not been seen since.
Tibetans, Tibet supporters, human rights organizations and world governments have consistently urged China to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, but these appeals continue to go unheeded.
For two decades the Chinese authorities have denied requests from governments and the United Nations for access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family, only recently claiming that he was leading a normal life and does not wish to be disturbed.