By Tsering Tashi
(Office of Tibet, London)
London, April 25 – The 14th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, was marked here this evening by a rally outside the Chinese Embassy seeking his immediate and unconditional release.
“I think coming here and seeking the Panchen Lama’s release is the least that we can do,” says Don Halls, a student of English Literature at a London college. “Diplomats and parliamentarians must demand to see and speak with him and more effort needs to be made to seek his immediate and unconditional release,” he adds, holding a black and white photo of Tibet’s second highest spiritual leader.
Don was a part of the delegation that tried to enter the Chinese embassy to deliver a birthday card addressed to the Panchen Lama who Amnesty International and other rights group consider the world’s youngest political prisoner. The card carried messages ranging from “Tashi Delek” greeting written in Tibetan to a simple expression of “you are in our thoughts”.
As Chinese Embassy officials failed to come out to receive the card, the policeman on duty helped to get it in. “The policeman was very nice and supportive. And when we informed him about the plight of the Panchen Lama he was surprised and showed much interest,” says Patricia Fennessy, an active member of the Tibet Vigil that has been holding a rally to highlight the issue of Tibet every Wednesday outside the Chinese Embassy since the last more then 10 years.
“I feel the Tibetans and Tibet supporters must do more for the release of the Panchen Lama,” says Sonam Dugda who also joined the group delivering the birthday card while another small group continued to shout slogans and wave the Tibetan flag at passing vehicles that slowed down to show their interest or support for the rally.
The evening’s rally was also supported by Carol Gao of the Falun Gong Campaign movement that holds a daily vigil outside the Chinese Embassy. “It is so horrible that the Communist Chinese government put the little boy in jail. I know they have a fake candidate and they should release the real Panchen Lama,” says Mrs. Gao who escaped to UK from China three years back.
“What the Chinese government is doing is cruel. They must allow the young Panchen Lama to receive proper religious studies and training like the Dalai Lama,” says Elizabeth Mioduchowski, another Tibet Vigil activist, adding, “We have to continue the struggle and not lose hope.”
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, born in Tibet on 25th April 1989 was recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 14th May 1995 as the reincarnation of the late 10th Panchen Lama. Three days later he was picked up by the Chinese authorities and since then the health condition and whereabouts of him and his family are not clear despite strong Tibetan and international expressions of concern.