By Tenzin Sangmo
(Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
New Delhi - April 25 marks the 19th birth anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gendun Yeshi Thinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo. Apropos to the fact that he was taken into custody by the Chinese authorities soon after his recognition as successor of the previous Panchen Lama May 14 1995, an otherwise joyous and auspicious occasion was steeped in obscurity. Missing from the tender of six in 1995 along with his parents and thirteen years later, the mystery surrounding his whereabouts remain ambiguous.
The government of the People's Republic of China appointed their own successor, Gyancain Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama on November 11 1995. The Committee of the Rights of the Child, United Nations in 1996, after confirmation from the Chinese authorities that they have 'taken the child for his security'
(Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
asked to visit Gendun Choekyi Nyima but the Chinese government did not relent even after a petition from more than 400 celebrities and associations including eleven Nobel Prize laureates. According to the People's Republic of China, as of June 2007 the 11th Panchen Lama is studying in middle school along with some of his relations.
The Tibetan Solidarity Committee in New Delhi has taken an initiative on the occasion of his birthday to generate awareness about the world's youngest political prisoner and to call for his release. The program began at Jantar Mantar, a place synonymous with demonstrations and protests around 11 am with the traditional sweet rice (de-si) offered to dignitaries and masses alike. This was followed by a ceremonial scarf-offering to the portrait of the Panchen Lama. Guest speakers included imminent personalities and long time Tibet supporters.
Members and children from the Stop Child Labor: Bachpan Bachao Andolan turned up in support for the Tibetan cause. The day also marked the launch of the Signature Campaign for Tibet by a group of Indian students and associates who identified with the cause. The signatures will be presented to the Indian PM Manmohan Singh in the first week of August coinciding with the Beijing Olympics. They demanded the Indian Government to speak out and condemn the Chinese for their atrocities in Tibet, urged China to hold meaningful dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama and to take a stand on human rights violations committed by any nation without fearing possible consequences.
Students from Tibetan Day School, Majnu Ka Tilla took part in a Painting Competition. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
Ven. Lobsang Dorje of the Chhode Tashi Lhunpo Cultural Society, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, central seat of the Panchen Lamas was the first to address the crowd. He expressed his concerns about the whereabouts and well being of the Panchen Lama, along with the safety of Chadrel Rinpoche, Head of the Search Committee intended to seek the new reincarnate. He demanded that the Chinese government come clean about the current status of the Panchen Lama and stop the systematic repression and persecution of Tibetan people inside TAR.
Lama Choephel Zoepa from the Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet spoke of having to celebrate the auspicious event in sorrow in view of the current situation in Tibet with the Panchen Lama's disappearance and subsequent house arrest. He further said, "I call upon everyone to fall in support with the non-violent struggle towards Tibet's freedom and the release of the Panchen Lama".
Advocate Jai Mukhi, Supreme Court Lawyer and Standing Counsel for the Tibetan Government in Exile said in his statement, "The Tibetan people are a religious people, highly ethical given to peaceful ways of thinking and acting. It is the Tibetans who have kept Buddhism alive in this selfish and material ways of the world. They are an anachronism unable to cope with the world, but I know they will succeed."
Phil Void of the Dharma Bums performed 'Rangzen' and 'Shangrila' both politically edged songs collaborated with rock and roll.
A mock dramatization of the Panchen Lama's supposed current situation was staged. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
A mock dramatization of the Panchen Lama's supposed current situation was staged. A boy monk of around six (the age at which the Panchen Lama was taken into custody) was brought in a caged wheel cart surrounded by mock PLA soldiers. The sight of the confined boy, flanked by soldiers with guns and its rendition brought tears to many people's eyes.
Twenty five second grade students from Tibetan Day School, Majnu Ka Tilla took part in a Painting Competition entitled 'Human Rights Situation in Tibet and the Panchen Lama'. Children from the Bachpan Bachao Andolan also participated in the competition.
Some 15 students and staff from the Amercian Embassy School, Chanakyapuri attended the program in the afternoon. The Prinicipal addressing the crowd said, " We are very proud to be a part of your needs for greater human rights in Tibet...this is a symbol of our partnership with the causes in Tibet, with the Dalai Lama..."
The evening also saw an acoustic performance by members of the Indian Rock group, Parikrama. Their presence and support was greatly appreciated by the general public.