Widespread resentment from local Tibetans resulted in the cancellation of a long-planned trip by Gyaltsen (Ch. Gyaincain) Norbu, the China appointed 11th Panchen Lama to the Amdo region of Tibet this month, reports confirm.
Threats of pay-cuts and extermination from jobs failed to deter local Tibetan officials from complying with Chinese government decree to prepare a grand welcome for the 21-year old Gyaltsen Norbu.
“Fake” Panchen, a term popularly used to describe the boy handpicked by the Chinese government was scheduled to visit the Labrang monastery in Sangchu county amidst tight security. Over a thousand Chinese police and security forces, including plainclothes police, were reportedly stationed around the monastery as preparatory measures.
Citing sources in the region, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that Tibetan laypeople and monks at the monastery were unhappy when they heard about the proposed visit.
“For now, because of widespread discontent among the local Tibetans—both laypeople and the monks at Labrang—preparations appear to have been suspended,” RFA quoted a Tibetan man from Labrang as saying.
The report said that Tibetan staff at the local government offices refused to cooperate during the preparations for the visit even after strict warnings from the Chinese authorities.
“Chinese authorities ordered Tibetan staff at the Sangchu county offices to be ready to welcome him joyously, and offer scarves and prostrations," the report quoted the source in Labrang.
"Many were unwilling to do this, and authorities threatened to cut their salaries or even fire them if they refused to attend.”
This is not the first time when the vice president of China's state-run Buddhist Association had faced popular boycott by Tibetans. A similar situation of mass public boycott was reported a few years ago when the Chinese government brought Gyaltsen Norbu to Labrang.
China appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995 after His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognised Gendun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year old boy from Lhari, Tibet as the 11th reincarnation in the Panchen Lama lineage.
Gendun Choekyi Nyima and his family were arrested shortly and disappeared. Since then China has refused to acknowledge their whereabouts.