» 03/17/2009, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET
If there really is peace in Tibet, Beijing should free the true Panchen Lama
For 14 years, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama recognized by the Dalai Lama, has been sequestered together with his family. Beijing continues to say that he is "doing well," and that there is religious freedom in Tibet: the liberation of the true Panchen Lama could be the only credible sign of this.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Beijing's publicity campaign about the beneficial effects of Chinese domination in Tibet has a serious defect. "If there really is peace in Tibet, as Beijing and the false Panchen Lama claim, then why do they refuse to show the world the true Panchen Lama, the one recognized by the Dalai Lama? The disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima for 14 years completely contradicts China's claim to respect religious freedom in Tibet."
Urgen Tenzin, director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), makes this comment on the recent statements by Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao, according to whom Tibet is "peaceful and stable." And he lashes out at the comments of Gyaincain Norbu, the "official" Panchen Lama, recognized by Beijing, but not by the Tibetans. After reaffirming the value of 50 years of communism in the region, yesterday Xinhua quoted this statement of his: "The people living in Tibet should hold dear the prosperity and happiness that they experience today."
"This Gyaincain Norbu," Tenzin says, "does not have the devotion and allegiance of the Tibetan people, so his statements are inconsequential. Gyaincain Norbu does not enjoy any authority either in the hearts nor minds of the Tibetan people. The Chinese have appointed the 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu just to politicize the Tibetan religion, and since the Dalai Lama fled to India, fifty years ago, there is so much devotion to the Panchen Lama that the Chinese are abusing the name of the Panchen Lama for their own political games, by appointing their own Panchen Lama."
On May 14, 1995, the Dalai Lama recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama, the second highest authority in Tibetan Buddhism. But a few days later, the child - who was six years old at the time - was kidnapped together with his parents, becoming the youngest prisoner of conscience in the world. In his place, China appointed Gyaincain Norbu, who was then taken to Beijing for his studies.
"Since May 17, 1995," Tenzin complains, "we have heard nothing about our true Panchen Lama. Beijing continues to say that he is alive and well, and is leading a normal life. But if that is true, then why do they refuse to show him in public? The TCHRD has asked various international institutions to verify that he is well, and where and how he is living, but China has always refused to cooperate.
"The continued disappearance of the Panchen Lama in the Tibetan hierarchy completely contradicts China's claim to respect religious freedom in Tibet. It is a matter of great concern that the second highest religious leader is denied and bereft of any traditional religious studies and training, even if he is alive. We urge the international community to pressure the Chinese for the unconditional release of the Panchen Lama and his family."
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