04/26/2010, 00.00
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Panchen Lama marks his 21st birthday after 15 years of detention

by Samdhong Rinpoche
China’s Communist authority abducted the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima when he was just six years old. He and his parents have not been seen or heard ever since. Tibetan Prime Minister in exile Samdhong Rinpoche talks about this inhuman treatment and launches an appeal.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) – Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday. He and his parents have been held in a secret location since he was a six-year-old child. Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala (India), spoke to AsiaNews about it.

When the Dalai Lama dies, the Panchen Lama has the responsibility of finding his new incarnation. The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, recognised Gedhun Choekyi Nyima on 14 May 1995.  However, Chinese police took the latter and his parents away a few days later. The United Nations and international organisations have called on China to let them see the family.

Instead, in November 1995, Chinese authorities presented Gyaltsen Norbu as the real Panchen Lama. Such a choice falls in line with the People’s Republic policy of tight control of religion.

Norbu has appeared in public recently when he was appointed last month to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

I appeal to all those who love justice to ask the Communist Party of China (CPC) to free our Panchen Lama who has been secretly detained since he was six.

It is sad that we know nothing about our beloved Panchen Lama, about how he is doing. We do not know what religious education he has received. At 20 years of age, a Tibetan monk becomes fully ordained but we do not know where our Panchen Lama is and what he is doing.

The Panchen Lama chosen by the CPC is free to move; he is also getting an adequate education. Our Panchen Lama is paying the price for being recognised for who he is even though he had nothing to do with it since he was but a six-year-old boy. The CPC is making him pay for that recognition.

The CPC is blatantly violating the rights of our Panchen Lama, and has been doing so for the past 15 years. Even the international community will not be able to compensate someone whose human rights have been so violated. It can only offer him solidarity, but the CPC is not concerned about public opinion or requests by world leaders.

On his 21st birthday, the Tibetan community is praying for his release. Tibetans wish him good health and long life.

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to the article)

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