OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE TASHI LHUNPO MONASTERY, BYLAKUPPE ON THE 23RD BIRTHDAY OF HIS HOLINESS THE 11TH PANCHEN LAMA
Bylakuppe, April 25, 2012: On this auspicious occasion of the 23rd birth anniversary of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama, Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, on behalf of all our monks and the Tibetan people in Tibet and in exile, with great reverence extend innumerous good wishes and prayers for His well-being and sound health.
Over the years, every successive incarnation of the Panchen Lama has contributed significantly to the spread of the teachings of the Buddha Dharma and served the well-being of all sentient beings.
In particular, His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Trinley Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen, led the Tibetan people in Tibet through the most difficult era of our existence, and served as a voice for the Tibetan people under the Chinese rule. As a result, the 10th Panchen Lama was subjected to untold physical and mental torture during and after the Cultural Revolution. He also had to endure life in prison for over a decade for criticizing the Chinese government’s Tibet policies and fighting for the welfare of the Tibetan people.
Throughout his life, the 10th Panchen Lama was dedicated to fighting for religious freedom, improving education and acceptance of Tibetan as the official language, through both negotiations and open confrontation with the Chinese leadership. As such, Tibetans even today recall with great reverence the intrepidness of the 10th Panchen Lama and his relentless fight and innumerous contributions made for the well-being of the Tibetan people.
Following Tibetan Buddhist tradition that involved an elaborate search and confirmation process, Hs Holiness the Dalai Lama on May 14, 1995 recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama and announced the six-year old boy, born in Lhari county of Nagchu Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, as the rightful incarnate of the 10th Panchen Lama.
Shortly after the announcement, Chinese authorities arrested the six-year old Panchen Lama and his family as well as important members of the search committee for the 11th Panchen Lama. As proof of their long-term ambitions to establish complete authority over all “internal affairs of China”, political or otherwise, Chinese authorities selected their own 11th Panchen Lama that very year. Their selection, the then six-year-old boy named Gyaltsen Norbu, has been another young victim in China’s plan to undermine and control the Tibetan people, their religion, and their nation.
The abduction and disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the rightful Panchen Lama, and the instatement of Gyaltsen Norbu in his place is evidence enough of the fact that Tibetans in Tibet do not enjoy any special child rights, human rights or religious freedom, and that Chinese authorities have no regard whatsoever for these rights and freedoms.
And yet, Chinese authorities continue to claim that the people under their rule enjoy democratic and religious freedoms. However, this has repeatedly been proved wrong by the very fact that the Chinese authorities have detained the 11th Panchen Lama for 17 long years since he was only six years old, refusing to provide any verifiable information of his health, well-being and whereabouts and depriving him of traditional Buddhist education.
In addition, after the passing away of the 10th Panchen Lama, Tibetans in Tibet suffered tremendously under the harsh policies and discrimination meted out by Chinese authorities, culminating in their collective protest against Chinese rule starting from 2008. The mounting cases of self immolations by our martyrs in Tibet and in exile is proof of the stifling nature of China’s Tibet policies and the growing discontent under Chinese rule as Tibetans face continued religious repression and complete annihilation of Tibetan culture, language and tradition.
It has now been 17 years since the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, his family and Chadrel Rinpoche and other Search Committee officials, and till date, there is no word of their whereabouts and well-being. Chinese authorities have played a deaf ear to the collective voices of appeal made by the Tibetan people, Tibet support groups, organizations – governmental and non-governmental, and individuals to allow independent bodies to meet the 11th Panchen Lama so as to ascertain his well-being. It is clear that China aims to keep the Dalai Lama-recognized 11th Panchen Lama hidden from the world so his name would diminish into obscurity.
Thus, we at the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery remain deeply concerned about the safety and plight of the 11th Panchen Lama, his parents and family, Chadrel Rinpoche and other political prisoners of Tibet. We humbly appeal for the support of all truth-loving people of this world to raise your voices against this inhuman treatment of one of Tibet’s greatest spiritual leaders, the 11th Panchen Lama, once considered the world’s youngest political prisoner.
Finally, we pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. We pray that the fruits of their labor be felt all over the world, just like the light from the Sun and the Moon. Our greatest hope and prayers is that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama be once again reunited in the Land of Snows.
The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Bylakuppe, April 25, 2012