By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, May 17: Tibetans and supporters today observed the International Solidarity Day with Tibet coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama’s enforced disappearance here at the TCV Dayschool.
The Department of Information and International Relations of the Tibetan government in exile held a public talk on Panchen Lama, screened a documentary ‘Tibet’s stolen child’ and put up a photo exhibition on Tibetan self-immolation.
Penpa Tsering, the speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Thupten Samphel, Director of Tibet Policy Institute, Sonam Norbu Dagpo, Secretary (International Relations) of DIIR, and Tsering Tsomo, Director of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, spoke on the topic ‘Concerns on the Enforced Disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama’.
The speaker of the Tibetan parliament said that the actions of the Chinese government clearly show that they are deliberately depriving the 26 year old Panchen Lama the opportunity to study religious texts and finish monastic education. “I believe that the efforts of the Chinese government in keeping the Panchen Lama in a secret location is to deprive him of all the religious trainings that he need to undertake so that he can teach to the future generations of Tibetans. And I am sure one of their efforts would be also to deny Panchen Lama to learn Tibetan language so that he would not be in a position to communicate directly with the Tibetan people in the future.”
He also appealed the Chinese government to reconsider holding Panchen Lama in detention and immediately release the Panchen Lama.
Tsering Tsomo, Director of TCHRD spoke about the legal implications of the Panchen Lama’s enforced disappearance under the International Human Rights Law. She said that China is using reincarnation as a political weapon.
She also noted that many Tibetan writers and singers were imprisoned for writing articles and singing songs about the missing boy recognized in 1995 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Many Tibetan self-immolators have also called for the release of the 11th Panchen Lama.
Tsomo also called on Chinese government to disclose the wellbeing and whereabouts of Jadrel Rinpoche, who led the search for 11th Panchen Lama.
Director of TPI, Thupten Samphel, questioned the Chinese government’s claim of being the rightful authority to choose Panchen Lama’s reincarnation. DIIR Secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo read the Department of Information and International Relations statement on the International Solidarity Day with Tibet.
The 10th Panchen Lama was only 52 when he passed away under mysterious circumstances after delivering a public speech in which he was sharply and openly critical of the Chinese government’s policies.
The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, was only six years old when the Chinese government abducted the young lama. Even after 20 years in custody, the Chinese authorities have not provided any verifiable information or proof of the physical and mental well being of the 11th Panchen Lama.