(Montreal, Saturday, 25 April 2009) – The Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) today released four computer-simulated photos of how the Panchen Lama’s facial features may have aged since his 1995 abduction by Chinese authorities at the age of six. The simulation is based on one of the few known photos of the Panchen Lama and was released by the CTC to coincide with his 20th birthday.
“Because of the familiarity of a single photo from his infancy, the CTC felt it was important to underline that the Panchen Lama is now twenty,” said Executive Director Dermod Travis. “Often employed to locate missing children, this technology may help the public to appreciate that he is now a young adult whose childhood was stolen, and to assist in his ultimate recovery by reminding people of how his features may have changed.”
The CTC employed the online APRIL® Age Progression Software to create the stream of photos. “While our four simulated photos reveal relatively minor aging with his facial features as he is only twenty, we also hope they will inspire professionals in the field to devote time to reconstructing his image even further,” said Travis.
Chinese authorities abducted Gedun Choekyi Nyima and his family days after his 1995 nomination as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama.
Gedun was six at the time of his arrest. His whereabouts and those of his family are unknown. No international body has been given permission to visit the family, despite repeated requests from foreign governments and senior UN officials, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Following his abduction, the Chinese government played what can only be called ‘reincarnation politics’ by selecting Gyaltsen Norbu as their own Panchen Lama in November 1995.
Panchen means "Great Scholar" and Lama is a word Tibetans use for religious teacher. Historically, the Panchen Lama has played a pivotal role in identifying the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and vice versa.
"The Panchen Lama’s childhood was stolen, but it's not too late to give him his freedom" said Travis. "But the Chinese government can no longer hide behind their claim that his parents are responsible for his continued detention since he’s now twenty.”
APRIL® Age Progression Software is a unique computer program that creates a stream of images of a person's face as it changes with age, also known as a Smoking Simulation Software. The software is currently being used in countries all over the world by museums & science centres, hospitals, schools, health departments and organizations.
The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.