By Phuntsok Yangchen
Secretary Tashi Phuntsok (L) and Secretary Sonam Dagpo/Lhakpa Tsering Hall, DIIR, Apil 21, Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, April 21: The Tibetan government in exile, officially known as the Central Tibetan Administration, today announced its decision to observe International Solidarity Day with Tibet on May 17, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of the Panchen Lama and his family.
The Central Tibetan Administration will launch a campaign calling for the release of the young Buddhist Lama who went missing after the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama recognized him as the reincarnation of the tenth Panchen Lama on May 14, 1989..
The 10th Panchen Lama was only 52 when he passed away under mysterious circumstances after delivering a public speech in which he was sharply and openly critical of the Chinese government's policies.
The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, was only six years old when the Chinese government abducted the young lama. Even after 20 years in custody, the Chinese authorities have not provided any verifiable information or proof of the physical and mental well being of the 11th Panchen Lama.
“The case of the Panchen Lama is not only the story of an innocent six-year old child disappearing for 20 years, but also a blatant symptom of political repression and lack of religious freedom. The enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama is a vivid case of China’s aggression against Tibetan people by hijacking a centuries old traditional Buddhist practice of reincarnation for political ends,” said Dicki Chhoyang, Minister of Department of Information and International Relations.
Addressing the press conference at Lhakpa Tsering hall in Gangchen Kyishong, Tashi Phuntsok, Secretary of Department of Information and International Relations said that exile Tibetan administration is making “tremendous effort” to obtain information about the 11th Panchen Lama and has been a “very difficult time”.
“China has maintained a very absolute silent tight lip (on the issue of Panchen Lama) but this does not deter us, we are making more efforts, we are going to keep his issue alive. It’s not because it is a political issue but it’s a religious spiritual issue which is fundamentally linked with the way of life of Tibet,” said Tashi Phuntsok.
An appeal letter signed by Dicki Chhoyang, Minister of Department of Information and International Relations, was issued urging all Tibetans and Tibet supporters to observe the International Solidarity Day with Tibet through various commemorative activities.
The EU and Human Rights section of Department of Information and International Relations will hold a public event on May 17 in Dharamshala.
On April 25, Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima will turn 26 years old.