The "Panchen Lama Awareness Initiative" at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, India, on December 5, 2023. (Photo: CTA)

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New Delhi — The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in coordination with the India Tibet Coordination Office in New Delhi, launched the “Panchen Lama Awareness Initiative” at the Constitution Club of India in New Delhi on Tuesday. Tibetans and Indian Tibet supporters urged Indian government to put pressure on the Chinese government to release 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet and raise concern about the dire human rights situation in Tibet with China.

The organisation held the "Panchen Lama Awareness Initiative" at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, India, on December 5, 2023. The aim of the event was to raise public awareness of the enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama and to work for his release as well as the release of other Tibetan political prisoners in Tibet. Zeekyab Rinpoche, Tenzin Thupten Rabgyal, Ven. Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and the event was attended by key dignitaries including Sikyong Penpa Tsering (President of the Central Tibetan Administration); MP Sujeet Kumar( Convener of All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum on Tibet); MP Sushil Kumar Modi (Former Deputy CM of Bihar); MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, MP Aneel Prasad Hegde, MP Chandeshwar Prasad and Rinchen Khando Khrimey (National Convener of Core Group for Tibetan Cause – India).

Indian MP Sujeet Kumar, MP Sushil Kumar Modi, MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, MP Aneel Prasad Hegde, MP Chandeshwar Prasad, condemned the forced occupation of Tibet by the Chinese Communist regime and called for the immediate release of His Eminence the 11th Panchen Lama from Chinese captivity.

Sikyong highlighted the importance of the 11th Panchen Lama in his speech, detailing the deeds of His Eminence the 10th Panchen Lama and his sacrifices for Tibet and the Tibetan people. He also summarised the significant relationship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence the Panchen Lama, whom Tibetans consider to be the sun and the moon. He condemned the CCP's cowardly act of abducting a small child who is now known as the world's youngest political prisoner and called on the Chinese government to release him immediately. Sikyong then briefed on Tibet issue and the current critical situation in Tibet. He stressed the geostrategic importance of Tibet for neighbouring countries and for the world at the present time.

Then Zeekyab Rinpoche, read out the following statement on the occasion:

“Today, as the abbot Abbot of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, India, on behalf of the Tibetan people, Buddhist devotees of the Himalayan region, and all who champion human rights, religious freedom, the rights of children, and the millions of devotees of the Panchen Lama lineage, I stand before you with folded hands to make an appeal to the Parliament members of the Indian government and its people for your kind support in securing the re­lease of the 11th Panchen Lama from the grasp of the Chinese government.

"I make this heartfelt appeal in the context of the dire situation in Tibet. The severe oppression and inhumane restrictions imposed on the Tibetan people, their movement, and their freedoms continued to worsen. The people of Tibet suffer in silence. Today, my primary appeal is for your help in the immediate release of the 11th Panchen Lama and addressing the long-standing plight of the Tibetan people in Tibet.

"In 1989, when the 10th Panchen Lama passed away under suspicious circumstances the monks and devotees of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, both within and outside Tibet, implored His Holiness the Dalai Lama to recognise the genuine reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, as per the re­ ports of the search committee in Tibet. His Holiness, after scrutiny of these reports, declared the child Gedhun Choekyi Nyima from Nagchu Lhari county of Tibet as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama on May 14, 1995, and bestowed him the name Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo.

"However, just three days later, on May 17, 1995, the Chinese government seized the 11th Panchen Lama – then only 6 years old – from his home in Tibet, disregarding his rights. For 28 years, the world has not seen him nor has known of his whereabouts; even whether he is still alive or not. The Chinese government, in blatant disregard for the rights and sentiments of the Tibetan people and followers of the Panchen Lama lineage, imposed a false Panchen Lama – another child by the name Gyaltsen Norbu – who is today a puppet used by the Chinese government as its political tool.

"Therefore, we strongly appeal to the honourable members of the Indian Parliament and the Indian people for your support and help on the following six-point-appeal:

1.We appeal to the Indian Parliament members to exert every possible effort and pressure on the Chinese government to immediately release the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who is now 34 years old. We request Indian Parliament members to take legislative measures that would enable Indian government officials to have access to meet the 11th Panchen Lama and verify his safety and health condition.

2. We appeal to the Indian Parliament members to honour Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, with an award in recognition of his unimagi­nable suffering during his 28 years in the Chinese government’s captivity.

3. We request the members of the Indian Parliament to publish a joint statement expressing concern on the 11th Panchen Lama’s current situation of en­ forced disappearance (signed by all the MPs).

4. We urge the Indian Parliament to adopt a resolution condemning the inter­ conference of the People’s Republic of China’s government in identifying reincar­nated Tibetan Buddhist leaders and installing them as part of its efforts to maintain control over Tibet, including the long-term enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, along with his entire family members.

5. We appeal to the Indian Parliament members to call for the immediate re­ lease of Jadrel Rinpoche, the head of the search committee for the reincarna­tion of the 10th Panchen Lama, and all political prisoners of Tibet. The dire situation in Tibet is evident by the self-immolation protests of over 158 Tibetans because of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The recent self-immolation of 25-year-old Tsewang Norbu on 25th February 2022 and 81-year-old Taphun on 27th March 2022, starkly illustrates this cry for justice.

6. We appeal to the Indian Government and its people to extend support for the realisation of His Holiness’s vision of visiting Tibet and His commitment to resolve the Tibet issue through dialogue and the Middle Way Approach.

The “Panchen Lama Awareness Initiative” event was also attended by Tibetan MP Namgyal Dolkar Lhagyari and MP Ven Geshe Atong Rinchen Gyaltsen of the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Advocate Tashi Gyalson, Chairman/Chief Executive Councillor, LAHDC Leh, Shartse Khensur Jangchup Choeden Rinpoche, Secretary General, International Buddhist Confederation, Tibetan Representatives, Indian Friends of Tibet, and media persons.