Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the United States Department of State. Photo: State Department/Ron Przysucha

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Washington D.C. – “We urge PRC authorities to account for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s whereabouts and well-being immediately and to allow him to fully exercise his human rights and fundamental freedoms, in line with the PRC’s international commitments,” said Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the United States Department of State.

On April 25, 2022, Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the United States Department of State, issued an official statement to the press regarding the Panchen Lama on his 33rd birthday. The statement calls on the PRC to release information about the Panchen Lama and to end human rights violations against him.

“Today marks the 33rd birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, who remains missing since PRC authorities abducted him as a six-year-old child on May 17, 1995. The PRC continues to deny members of the Tibetan community access to the Dalai Lama-designated Panchen Lama, the second most revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism, and instead continues to promote a state-selected proxy,” the statement stated.

“We urge PRC authorities to account for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s whereabouts and well-being immediately and to allow him to fully exercise his human rights and fundamental freedoms, in line with the PRC’s international commitments,” Ned Price said.

“The United States supports Tibetans’ religious freedom and their unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity, including Tibetans’ right to select, educate, and venerate their own leaders, like the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, according to their own beliefs and without government interference,” the spokesperson said.

During Sikyong Penpa Tsering's recent visit to the U.S., Undersecretary Uzra Zeya had also made public the U.S. support for the Tibetan cause by tweeting, “I reaffirmed U.S. commitment to preserving Tibet’s religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage; advancing human rights for Tibetans in the PRC; and supporting the international Tibetan diaspora.”

The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, has been missing since the Chinese authorities abducted him when he was only six years old on May 17, 1995, after His Holiness the Dalai Lama identified him as the next Panchen Lama. The Chinese Communist Party continues to deny Tibetans access to the real 11th Panchen Lama.

On the occasion of the 33rd birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, the CTA Sikyong tweeted, “Zeekyab Rinpoche and I had the honour of meeting @IRF_Ambassador. Today's meeting was significant as the day marks the 33rd birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama. The case of Panchen Lama epitomizes the gross religious persecution inside Tibet, and together we must work to end it.”

Several Tibetan communities around the world celebrated the Panchen Lama's birthday in protest against China's dictatorial rule in Tibet and demanded that China release him immediately or provide information about his status.

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