Tibetans in exile urge US to call for China to release 11th Panchen Lama

A few days after his name was announced, the 11th Panchen Lama was imprisoned by the Chinese authorities when he was just six years old, noted a spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration.
Tibetans on Thursday celebrated the 35th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama in Dharamshala with dignitaries that included members of the Estonian Parliament (Photo | Yeshi Seli)
Tibetans on Thursday celebrated the 35th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama in Dharamshala with dignitaries that included members of the Estonian Parliament (Photo | Yeshi Seli)

DHARAMSALA: With US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken currently visiting China, Tibetans in exile in India are optimistic that he would raise the issue of the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama with the Chinese authorities, even as his 35th birthday was celebrated here on Thursday.

"You are aware that the 11th Panchen Lama a few days after his name was announced was imprisoned by the Chinese authorities when he was just six years old. As we celebrate his 35th birthday today, we urge Secretary Blinken to raise the issue of his release from prison. This is a gross violation of human rights and the US always advocates that there should be no human rights violations," a spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) told The New Indian Express in Dharamshala.

"China has not just committed a crime against the appointed Panchan Lama but also against the boy they themselves chose as one," the CTA added.

In Dharamshala's Dalai Temple, celebrations are held every five years to mark the birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Panchen Ringpoche are considered the sun and moon by Tibetans.

Tibetans on Thursday celebrated the 35th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama in Dharamshala with dignitaries that included members of the Estonian Parliament (Photo | Yeshi Seli)
Dalai Lama says his thought process is Indian as he's a follower of Nalanda tradition of Buddhism

"Since 1995, the case of the enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama has been continuously discussed in the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Members of Parliaments of US, Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, UK amongst a host of others have called for his immediate release. However, the Chinese government has not responded on his whereabouts," said Sikyong Penpa Tsering in Dharamshala on Thursday.

A delegation of Parliamentarians from Estonia had come to voice their support for releasing the Panchen Lama and returning Tibet to the Tibetans.

"What we have a problem with is that it's a kidnapping and should not be acceptable anywhere in the world. Our association with HH Dalai Lama began when he first visited Estonia in 1991 and it was a political issue that we got associated with as you cannot usurp another one's territory," Estonian Parliamentarian Juku-Kalle Raid, Member of Riigkogu, told The New Indian Express.

Meanwhile, representatives of Buddhist organisations in India have urged the Indian government to help in raising this issue and also sought clarity on the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama.

"I want to know that he is well and alive. This is a big cause of concern for us," Regzin Dorjey of the Ladakh Buddhist Association told The New Indian Express, adding it was high time that the UN got involved to resolve this.

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