By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, May 19: Days after the 25th anniversary of Tibet’s revered religious leader 11th Panchen Lama’s disappearance, Beijing has made a revelation regarding Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the boy chosen by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima “received free compulsory education when he was a child, passed the college entrance examination and now has a job.” Zhao added the 31-year-old man and his family does not wish to be disturbed in their “current normal lives.”
The revelation comes after months of concerted pressure from international community led by the exile Tibetan set-up including the Central Tibetan Administration and various civil society components across the globe.
The latest update by Beijing is, however, consistently coy. In a rare admission, a Chinese authority in 2015 said that the Panchen Lama recognized by the Dalai Lama is alive. On September 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.”
The 11th Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima was recognized as the reincarnation of his predecessor by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on May 14, 1995. Days later, the Dalai Lama endorsed candidate was abducted by China from his home and have never been seen since.
Gendun Choekyi Nyima is considered the true reincarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama as opposed to the Chinese appointed Gyaltsen Norbu who currently holds the mandate of only the Chinese Communist Party, of which he is a member.
Calls for the release of the Panchen Lama and information on his condition by international community has grown prior to the infamous anniversary of his disappearance, which was celebrated on Sunday. On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement said, “We call on the PRC government to immediately make public the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons.”
The President of the Central Tibetan Administration, known also as the exile Tibetan government, Dr. Lobsang Sangay here, lauded Secretary Pompeo’s statement. “It sends a strong message to the Chinese government that the international call for Panchen Lama is stronger than ever and will continue to campaign for his release until he is able to return to his rightful place at the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Tibet,” Sangay said.