By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala and Kollegal: 17 May: Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) will be holding a candle light vigil this evening starting at 6:30 at three different locations; McLeod square to Tsuglagkhang temple, Dharamsala Bus stand to Kachari (Judicial court) and Gyuto to Norbulingkha.
The candle light processions are being organised to mark complete 12th year of forceful captivity of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, by the Communist Chinese authorities.
On 17 May 1995, three days after Gendhun Choekyi Nyima was recognised by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, he along with his family went missing in Tibet.
On 28 May 1996, the Chinese Government finally admitted that they are actually holding Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family "in protective custody".
In November 1995 the atheistic Chinese government even installed a boy named Gyaltsen as the 11th Panchen Lama out of their own choice.
In a parallel event, in the south Indian Tibetan settlements, all the executive members of the Regional TWA of Bylakuppe and Hunsur are to join the newly formed RTWA of Kollegal this morning to hold religious function, Sangsoel (burning incense) and special prayer session at the Kollegal settlement for the long life and well being of the 11th Panchen Lama. Similarly, there will also be candle light vigil later in the evening.
The RTWA, Kollegal was formed recently and is their first ever public function since.
TWA and its regional chapters are urging for the immediate and unconditional release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family. They are demanding that Gendhun Choekyi Nyima must be allowed to return to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and be established as the rightful holder of the Panchen Lama lineage and be given the proper monastic education.
According to their press statments, through protest march like these, TWA calls on the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to respect the religious freedom of the Tibetan people, including their right to identify all religious leaders.