By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetans in Dharamshala stand in queue to offer Tibetan scarves (Khata) to the portrait of the incarcerated Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima. July 21, 2016. Phayul photo: T. Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, July 21: On the day when the Chinese government - backed Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu begins his Kalachakra initiation or the ‘wheel of time’ teachings today at Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, Tibet, four prominent Tibetan NGOs here in Dharamshala rallied to condemn the event calling it a “calculated move” to garner legitimacy and “to exert political and social control over Tibetans through the religious institutions, the center of Tibetan life”.
The Tibetan Women Association, Student for a Free Tibet, Gu Chu Sum Movement and the National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) today organized a ‘scarf offering ceremony’ near Tsuglakahang Temple, to a portrait of the Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima recognized by the Dalai Lama.
Lukar Jam Atsok, the President of Gu Chu Sum said the move to politicize an entirely religious event can be construed as a direct “insult and belittling” of the Tibetan people and its way of life. He said, “The matter concerning Gyaincain Norbu being the fake Panchen is not a personal issue; it is a full fledged assault by China on the tulku tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and an attempt to assert authority over the issue of reincarnation of tulkus in general.”
He further adds, “I believe that through this, China is possibly prodding on a model to establish their proxy religious figures. If they achieve success this time albeit through propaganda and sheer enactment, the next move may be to apply the same methods in launching a fake Dalai Lama in the future.”
The sacred teaching of Due-Khor-Wang-Chen in Shigatse is not without resistance inside Tibet with local Tibetans being forced to attend the religious event. Reportedly, Chinese authorities have made it mandatory for each Tibetan household to send two members to attend the proceedings.
National Director of the activist group SFT, Tenzin Tselha said that the scarf offering ceremony serves a dual purpose of asserting that Tibetan people have always considered the incarcerated Gendun Choekyi Nyima as the true Panchen and at the same time let China know that Tibetans will not accept the lies manufactured by the CCP. “CCP regime fails to understand the faith of the Tibetan people in Buddhism, and the incorruptible relationship between a disciple and a Lama. Let's give a strong message to China that faith cannot be imposed upon or controlled by gun. Our aim with this action is to highlight the hypocrisy of the Chinese government and expose the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its manipulation and oppression,” said Tselha.
Gyaincain Norbu was handpicked by the Chinese government over Gendun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year old boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995. On Sept. 6, 2015, Norbu Dunzhub, a member of the Tibet Autonomous Region's United Front Work Department told reporters, “The reincarnated child Panchen Lama you mentioned is being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed," admitting to the long denied kidnapping of the Tibetan Lama. His current condition and whereabouts continue to remain unknown.