Buddhists celebrate the 32nd birthday of the Panchen Lama, still held hostage by Beijing

Indian Buddhists in Ladakh celebrate the Panchen Lama’s birthday, renewing the call for his release. Chinese authorities grabbed him and his family 26 years ago, and still hold him at undisclosed location.


Dharamsala (AsiaNews/RFA) – Buddhists in Ladakh and the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Bylakuppe (Karnataka) joined Tibetans around the world to celebrate the Panchen Lama's 32nd birthday. The celebrations, held on 25 April, were accompanied by renewed calls on China to release him.

This was the first time that the Panchen Lama's birthday was celebrated in Ladakh. For Buddhists, this is a sign of renewed interest in his fate and that of the Tibetan cause.

Chinese authorities abducted Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family on 17 May 1995, three days after he was recognised as the Panchen Lama by the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Since then, he has been kept at an undisclosed location.

Traditionally considered the second highest ranking lama in Tibetan Buddhism, the monk plays a crucial role in the religion since, among other things, he is tasked with recognising the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama after the death of the incumbent.