By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, May 7: 159 organizations submitted a joint petition to the United Nations (UN), Geneva to hold China accountable for the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his entire family, after 25 years of his enforced disappearance. The joint petition was addressed to Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of UN, and Ambassador Christian Braun of UN General Assembly.
The petition was signed by organizations from 18 countries across five regional groups under the UN: Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uruguay, and USA. The petition was also forwarded to 12 UN Special Procedure Mandate-Holders, four UN treaty bodies, the WHO, and 192 Permanent Missions of the UN Member States by the Tibet Bureau Geneva, requesting their support.
The letter condemned Chinese policies on religious freedom, persecution of Tibetan Buddhists, and interference in Buddhist traditions with laws like Order no. 5: through which the “atheist” Chinese government can meddle in the recognition of reincarnated lamas. It also mentioned the enforced ‘patriotic re-education camps’ for monks and nuns after destroying Buddhist learning institutions like Larung Gar and Yachen Gar. It claimed that “China model of deceit and corruption” led to the spread of the coronavirus as it silenced whistle-blowers and journalists to downplay the threat of COVID-19.
“The 25 years of enforced disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family members is a continuous crime not just against him, his family and the Tibetan people but also against every individual who believes in the sanctity of human rights. This is a crime against humanity and China must be held accountable for this heinous act,” the petition stated.
Four points of action were requested as follows; to press China for the release of the high-ranking lama, his family and Chadrel Rinpoche; to stop China to meddle in the religious practices of Tibetans and Uyghurs; for UN to send a fact-finding mission to assess human rights violations in Tibet; and to prepare a press statement to mark the 25th disappearance of Panchen Lama.
Gendun Choekyi Nyima turned 31 on April 25. Chinese officials kidnapped the Panchen Lama at the age of 6 on May 17, 1995. More than two decades later, Tibetans continue to demand the Panchen Lama to be released and returned to the people of Tibet. China claims that his whereabouts are kept undisclosed to protect him. No one has been allowed to visit him since his disappearance. Instead Beijing has appointed their own Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu which Tibetans regard as the “fake Panchen”.