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Tibetans celebrate the 34th Birthday of the Panchen Lama in ambivalence

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The original photograph of the Panchen Lama, along with CG simulation of age progressions at ages 10, 26, and 30 (Photo/ITN)

By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA ,25 April: Tibetan diaspora around the world celebrated the 34th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama on Tuesday, one of the most revered Tibetan spiritual figures who is held incommunicado by the Chinese government since the last 28 years.  The day which is a sacred and joyous day for Tibetans and Buddhists around the world has instead become a painful reminder of China’s abduction and disappearance of the Panchen Lama.

Panchen Lama is considered the manifestation of Buddha Amitabha, and ranks as the highest Tibetan Buddhist religious figure after His Holiness the Dalai Lama and whose lineage dates back to 1385.

At the age of six, Panchen lama along with his family was abducted by China, just three days after Dalai Lama proclaimed him as the reincarnation of the former Panchen lama on 17th May 1995. Panchen Lama and his family are held in incommunicado detention ever since.

Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama hold a unique authority in the selection and tutelage of each other’s successive reincarnations. “Beijing’s abduction of the 11th Panchen Lama and the selection of Gyaltsen Norbu as their choice of the Panchen Lama are solely politically motivated acts aimed at controlling the selection of the next Dalai Lama and legitimizing its illegal occupation of Tibet. The incommunicado detention of the 11th Panchen Lama by the PRC for the past 27 years constitutes a gross violation of multiple human rights protected by various international treaties and laws, many of which China is legally obliged to respect, promote, and protect”, the Exile Tibetan government’s Information and International Relations wing wrote in their statement.

Zeekyap Tulku, abbot of Tashi Lhunpu monastery in South India in his testimony said “The issue of panchen lama is very important for Tibet, The Himalayan region and the world at large. Dalai Lama and panchen lama are like the sun and moon and Historically, they share a warm relationship. Brotherhood and relationship of student and tutor. And they also took the responsibility of recognizing each other’s reincarnation”. He also added the sacrifices of the previous Panchen Lama to protect the Tibetan religion, language, culture and identity.

Sikyong Penpa Tsering wrote on his Twitter handle. “It is the 34th birthday of the 11th panchen lama who has not been seen since the Chinese govt abducted him at age 6 & remains one of the world’s longest-held prisoners of conscience. The case of Panchen Lama epitomizes the gross violation of human rights & religious freedom in Tibet.”

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