By Ugyen Gyalpo
April 25th will mark the 32nd birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama. The U.S. State Department on Friday called upon China to make the whereabouts of 11th Panchen Lama’s known ahead of his birthday, “We respect Tibetans’ right to select, educate and venerate their own leaders like the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama according to their own beliefs and without government interference. We call on the PRC government to immediately make public the Tibetan venerated Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and to give us this opportunity to meet with [him] in person,” Ned Price
This coming May 17th will also mark the 26th anniversary of the kidnapping and disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. He was being recognized by His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet as the reincarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama on May 19th, 1995 at the tender age of six. Ever since his disappearance, he instantly became the world’s youngest political prisoner and for such a long time, his whereabouts is still completely unknown.
Earlier last year to coincide with the 25th anniversary since his abduction not by the fictional aliens but by the real dreaded Chinese Communist Party, thanks to some Tibet Support Group that a U.K based facial aging expert came up with a revelation of a final photo of the abducted 11th Panchen Lama to give a sense of how he would look like if he would still be alive, brought outright emotional tears and outpouring applause. Many Tibetans were so happy to see this new photo that they were quick to frame and enshrined it into their home altars and monasteries.
After the worldwide condemnation of China’s refusal to tell about the real Panchen Lama whereabouts, in the most twisted ways of unfolding secrets, the hallmark of Chinese Communist Party, they have said now the boy who disappeared almost 26 years ago after being handpicked by the Dalai Lama as the second highest figure after the Dalai Lama is now a college grad with a stable job.
As ghastly as this story was being cooked by this regime, the fake Panchen Lama tours around Tibet and China giving teaching to a Tibetan audience, the real Panchen Lama continues to remain missing. This is a lie that the Chinese Communist Party can sell to the world but not to the Tibetan people.
Even after six plus decades of atrocious rule and totalitarian control over Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, their attempts to win fully over Tibetans both politically and spiritually have failed. Even after carving covert stratagem from the kidnapping of the Dalai Lama appointed Panchen Lama to installing their fake one, to try to politicize, intervene and take control of the reincarnation of the 15th Dalai Lama after the current Dalai Lama succumbs to the law of impermanence, the Chinese Communist Party has failed to win over the hearts and penetrate into the moated and unbreakable faith of the Tibetan people for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The outright rejection and mockery of the fake Panchen Lama appointed by an atheist party, by the Tibetans both inside and out is a manifestation of total disapproval. It is on record that Mao Zedong once said to the young Dalai Lama that religion is poison. Yet ironically in a campaign to totally win over Tibet and interfere in the religious affairs of Tibet, Beijing’s handpicked Panchen Lama continues to make public appearance, forcing and compelling dehumanized Tibetans under the barrel of the gun to welcome him and even listen to his phony teachings. His often and increased presence inside Tibet has raised eyebrows and cast a cement on usual suspicion to his ultimate role of not only being used as a tool to intervene into the process of the future reincarnation of the Dalai Lama but also established his role as a tool to spread socialistic ideologies and cinicize Tibetan Buddhism altogether.
To hammer on China’s narrative that Tibetans were liberated from serfdom and feudalistic society, Gyalsten Norbu, the fake Panchen Lama appointed by the Chinese Communist Party, while on his visit to a township under the jurisdiction of the Yadong county last year for a socioeconomic research, acting as if he truly cares about the Tibetan people as a real Panchen Lama would, is said to have said that he was happy and relieved to see Tibetan families earning much more combined with government subsidies they were receiving.
He is also reported to have said that “Life is better and your children can attend school now” directly contradicting the factual reality that in Tibet, Tibetans are forced into learning Chinese and that Tibetan language, their mother language, language that defines a thousand of years old civilization and culture is scraped off and completely denied. It is well known fact that Tibetan language right activist, Tashi Wangchuk, who wanted to fight for the right to learn Tibetan language playing by the rule of the framework of the Chinese constitution was arbitrarily imprisoned and sentenced to prison for the charges of inciting separatism.
The fake Panchen Lama also attends and conducts series of Buddhist activities and sutras recitations at Tashi Lhunpo monastery, the traditional monastic seat of the real Panchen Lama amidst hundreds of suppressed, subdued monks, compelled to welcome, listen and yield to his forced spiritual reckoning under the watchful eyes of the Chinese police and the ever present surveillance cameras all around.
The fake Panchen Lama on his tour of Tibet last year is also said to have visited a Sakya monastery, one of the four lineage of the Tibetan Buddhist school of thoughts, where he said that “Tibetan Buddhism, as a part of excellent traditional culture of the Chinese nation should be oriented towards sinicization and adapted to socialist society”, yet again directly contradicting the history of Tibetan Buddhism as not being part of the Chinese nation.
Buddhism was introduced by one of the greatest emperor of Tibet, King Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century who once reigned supreme, so much so that in order to acquiesce a peace accord, the emperor of the Tang Dynasty gives his daughter Princess Wencheng in marriage to the fierce emperor of Tibet to thwart an imminent attack. He also unified Tibet and expanded the Tibetan empire and also ended the war between states in Tibet. He also moved the capital of Tibet to Lhasa, which still to this remains the capital of Tibet. Almost a century later under the reign of Tibetan King Trisong Detsen, who invited two Buddhist masters to Tibet from India that Buddhism spread like wildfire all across the Tibetan region.
Tibet has always been an independent country, with distinct language, culture, heritage and script, united by a single faith in the Dalai Lamas and Tibetan Buddhism. But in 1913, the thirteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet right after the collapse of the imperial Qing dynasty and the beginning of the formation of Republic of China declared Tibet’s independence.
Tibet was and continues to remain a laboratory to test all kinds of atrocities mankind can endure. The ruthless and systematic oppression of Tibet has been relentless since 1959 and is now replicated in places like East Turkestan and Inner Mongolia. The kind of cinicization campaign that is happening in Tibet in all aspects of life and art is also happening in our spiritual world by means of politicizing the Panchen Lama seat, the second highest seat in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama. This cinicization campaign is played out in other areas occupied by the Chinese Communist Party. From incentivizing Tibetans to replace the picture of Xi Jinging in place of the statue of Buddhist deities in their altars, to translating Quran in Chinese language in East Turkestan to make the holy book sound compliant with the Chinese Communist Party, to replacing Chinese language in Mongolian schools, cinicization campaign by the Chinese Communist Party is in full swing as we i write this article.
It is a fact that the Chinese Communist Party spends almost half a billion dollars a year in distorting facts, spreading lies and also to vilify His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Also they invest billions in an effort to control thoughts beyond the borders of China. Xi Jinping once even ordered the erasure of Genhis Khan from the Chinese history books. Genghis Khan one of the greatest Emperor of the Mongol empire, whose rule spread from Central Asia to as far as Poland in Europe and Levant in the Middle East. The end result would be that the Chinese people will grow up learning a history that is only indoctrinated to them that suits the Party’s narrative. For them four plus four will always be five.
China can destroy the Tibetan people, but they will never be able to break the indomitable Tibetan spirit that is still so well and alive. Despite sixty plus years of dehumanization and systematic destruction of their civilization, despite forced indoctrination, despite the death of many older generations of Tibetans who lived through the occupation, Tibetan children inside of Tibet never having seen the light of freedom and the banned Tibetan national flag, seems to be rising from the ashes when they were left for dead. This is a testament that no matter what China does, no matter how much they incentivize to replace our culture, no matter how much they force them into embracing a fake Panchen Lama under the barrel of the gun, the Tibetan spirit is deeply rooted that a Communist party which is only seventy years old can ever dream to wipe and replace them.
Dalai Lama will continue to remain as Tibet’s symbol and that the fake Panchen lama, a laughingstock amongst Tibetans will never be accepted by the Tibetan people and the Communist Party will never be accepted as the arbiter of Tibet’s spirituality.
(Views expressed are his own)
The author is a blogger at ‘The Roar of the Snow Lion’. He is a Tibetan living in Woodside, New York.