Briefing Paper on Tibet’s XIth Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

Ordained Name: Tenzin Gedhun Yeshe Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo[Gedhun Choekyi Nyima]
Birthday: 25 April 1989
Birthplace: Lhari County, Nagchu Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
Date of formal announcement as the reincarnation of the Xth Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama: 14 May 1995
Date of Abduction: 17 May 1995
Current Age: 16 year-old
The 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet


Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born to Konchok Phuntsok and Dechen Chodon on 25 April, 1989, the nineteenth day of the third Tibetan month of the lunar calendar in the Tibetan Earth-Snake year at Lhari county of Nagchu Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). On 14 May 1995, the Dalai Lama announced the then six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the Xth Panchen Lama. Three days after the announcement, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family disappeared from their home. Their whereabouts and well-beings still remain unknown. In November 1995, government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) appointed another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, as the XIth Panchen Lama. He was enthroned in December of 1995.

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The year 2005 has been declared as the International Year of Gedhun Choekyi  Nyima the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet. He turns 16 on 25  April 2005. It is his tenth year in Chinese custody at an undisclosed  location after he and his parents disappeared in 17 May 1995.

On 14 May 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognised the then six-years  old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the Xth Panchen Lama. The  government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) declared the announcement  invalid and illegal. Three days later, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his parents disappeared and have never been seen again. China has signed the United  Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on 29 August 1990 and ratified  it on 2 March 1992. China’s detention of boy Panchen Lama is a clear violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as domestic and international Laws. 

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China’s Western Development Plan has brought numerous spins on the lives of Tibetans. On some occasions, old buildings are brought down, people are displaced to make room for dam plans whereas at times Tibetans are issued with afforestation and construction orders to beautify or reverse earlier mistaken policies. On no occasion, has the voice of the affected people been considered thereby bringing confusion and insecurity to Tibetans.

Yungdung Lodoe, 33, a painter in Chamdo County who arrived in Nepal on  10 December 2004, described to TCHRD about town development activities in his native town.

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Sonam Gyatso, 27, a monk at Thashar Monastery in Samdo Townshi, Tsolho “TAP”, Qinghai Province, described Chinese authorities’ intervention in the affairs of the monastery upon passing of the chief lama of the monastery.

Sonam told TCHRD, “I was born in a nomadic family in Gonga Village, Samdo Township, Tsolho “Tibet Autonomous Prefecture” (“TAP”). When I reached seven years old, my parents admitted me in the Thoshar Monastery.  The chief lama of the monastery, Yongzin Lobsang Khedup Rinpoche, was the root lama of the monks in the monastery and the Tibetans living in the areas surrounding the monastery. Many Tibetans in the neighbouring Gansu Province also revered to him. Apart from that, he had followers in Hongkong, Taiwan, Japan, the United States, England and some Chinese cities. Rinpoche made the monastery an ideal place to study and practice Tibetan Buddhism. He also financed the monastery’s expenditures. He built elementary schools in all the 12 villages under Thoshar Township and 11 villages under Samdo Township. For the benefit of the poor Tibetans, he also built a hospital where treatments were carried at a lower cost than the government hospital.”

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prison_jampel_jangchubThe Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) received confirm information that Jampel Jangchub -member of the “Group of Ten”- has been freed around 7 March 2005. He was released after 16 years and four months imprisonment in Drapchi Prison. Jampelis now 43 years old and is reported to  be suffering from heart and kidney ailments after years of torture and maltreatment in the prison.

Background information

Jampel Jangchub was born in Toelung Dechen County to the south of Lhasa City, “Tibet Autonomous Region”(“TAR”). He attended an elementary school for three years and later helped in the family field work.

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Norzin Dolma presenting oral statement at 61st Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Norzin Dolma presenting oral statement at 61st Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Oral Statement made by Norzin Dolma on behalf of International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

61st Session of the UN Commission on Human rights
5 April 2005

Item 11e: Civil & Political Rights including the question of Religious Intolerance

For the past several years, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) has regularly reported on matters concerning the gross and systematic violation of religious freedom in Tibet to the members of this commission.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) deplores the Chinese authorities closing down of Tibetan culture

According to China Information Center on 30 March 2005, “Tibetan Culture, a website run by the Xueyu Zangren Cultural Exchange Co Ltd in China’s northwest Gansu Province, was closed on March 25, by the Internet Administration Department of the Public Security Bureau (“PSB”) of Lanzhou.” It is speculated that “sensitive topics” and articles posted by surfers have led to the close down. Tsewang Norbu, a Tibetan who is the writer and editor-in-chief of the website, is reported to be disappeared. 

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) deplores that no country will sponsor a resolution on China’s human rights records at this year’s United Nation’s Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), currently in session at Geneva. On 17 March 2005 the US government announced that it has decided not to introduce a resolution critical of China’s human rights at the Commission.

Resolutions at the UN Commissions are potent tools to criticize human rights records of countries that abuse the fundamental human rights and freedoms of its citizen. Just tabling a resolution against a country is considered by many UN member states as a major loss of face value, especially by People’s Republic of China(PRC) who gives lots of emphasis on its image building process. A resolution symbolizes a poor human rights record of the country.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) released its Annual Report: Human Rights Situation in Tibet, 2004. The Annual report details the current Human Rights situation in Tibet compiled from independent research along with the testimonies of newly arrived refugees in the exile community. This year’s report focuses on the continued violation of Tibetans Right to Development; Right to Education; Civil and Political Rights; the Right to Information, and Religious Freedom.

The year 2004, saw the release of some prominent political prisoners from Chinese prisons. However, TCHRD also recorded 21 known cases of arrests on charges of suspicion of activities that the Chinese government deemed “endangering state security”- activities that have called for the freedom of Tibet or simply for the expression of allegiance to the Dalai Lama. At the end of 2004, TCHRD recorded 146 known political prisoners still serving prison terms in various Chinese prison networks across Tibet. Of which 55 Tibetans are serving sentences of 10 years or more, with monks constituting 63 percent of the total known political prisoners. TCHRD believes that there are many more cases of unconfirmed arrests.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has received information from a reliable source that, Rinzin Wangyal a.k.a Rinwang, 59, died in prison at the end of 2004. There has been no official confirmation of Rinzin Wangyal’s death. It has been reported that his body was not handed over his family.

Rinzin was serving a life imprisonment term in Pawo Tramo Prison, 250 km east of Lhasa. According to the most recent information received by TCHRD on 31 May 2004, his health condition was known to have gravely deteriorated due to constant torture over the years in prison.

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The Chinese government has commuted the death sentence on Trulku Tenzin Delek to life imprisonment. “ The Higher People’s Court in Sichuan province, in Southwestern China, commuted the death penalty with two-year reprieve for a Tibetan monk involve in terrorist bombings to life term on Wednesday”,  Xinhua, the official news agency of the People’s Republic of China reported.

The court verdict also said,  “A’an Zhaxi, also known as Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, was deprived of his political rights for life, which was handed down to him during the day.”

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) believes that the verdict was widely expected considering past record of such similar cases. Despite the news of a life sentence for Trulku,  TCHRD strongly urges the Chinese government to conduct a fair re-trial while allowing Trulku legal representation of his own choosing.

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