One of the most highly revered Tibetan spiritual leaders, the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, remains missing since his abduction by the Chinese authorities at the age of six on 17 May 1995.
On the 25th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reiterates its call for his immediate and unconditional release and unfettered access to independent international human rights group to ascertain his fate and wellbeing.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was six years old when he and his parents became victims of enforced disappearance at the hands of Chinese authorities on 17 May 1995, three days after His Holiness the Dalai Lama had recognised him as the reincarnation of the previous 10th Panchen Lama.
Gyaincain Norbu (Gyaltsen Norbu), the 11th Panchen Lama appointed by Chinese authorities to nullify the Dalai Lama’s selection has been appointed president of the regional branch of Buddhist Association of China (BAC) in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
On 22 June this year, Wu Yingjie, the Chinese Communist Party Secretary of TAR met with the newly elected members of the BAC’s TAR branch, a party controlled supervisory organ on Buddhism in People’s Republic of China.
By Ngawang Choephel Drakmargyapon*
“If I die, I think two to three years, I think the Chinese may choose even one Dalai Lama. But Tibetans (will) not accept that. The Panchen Lama which they choose, some Chinese officials also they describe as ‘Fake Panchen Lama’.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, TIME Magazine, 7 March 2019
This report is an account of the largely unknown attempts made to ascertain the whereabouts, the well-being and the fate of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet at the United Nations. It attempts to provide a comprehensive narrative on the efforts by the international community over the past more than two decades to determine the fate of the Panchen Lama by particularly highlighting how the mechanisms of the UN human rights system have played a crucial role to help the Tibetans, followers of Tibetan Buddhism, supporters of Tibet and others by initiating interventions on the case directly with the Chinese authorities.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was recognised on 14 May 1995 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during a ceremony in Dharamsala, India. His Holiness declared: “Today is the auspicious day when the Buddha first gave the Kalachakra teaching. The Kalachakra teachings have a special connection with the Panchen Lamas. On this occasion, which also happens to be the Vaisaki, it is with great joy that I am able to proclaim the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche. I have recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, born on April 25, 1989, whose father is Kunchok Phuntsog, and mother Dechen Chodon, of Lhari district in Nagchu, Tibet, as the true reincarnation of Panchen Lama.”
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the arbitrary detention of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima by the Chinese government. One of Tibet’s most important spiritual leaders, the Panchen Lama has not been seen or heard from since then. On 17 May 1995, the six-year-old Gedun Choekyi Nyima and his parents were arbitrarily detained by Chinese government officials. For many…
Today is the 28th birthday of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who went missing 22 years ago along with his parents after they were detained by Chinese officials in Tibet. The Panchen Lama’s case has become one of the world’s longest enforced disappearances, the answer to which is considered a top state secret by the Chinese government. The…
Today is the 27th birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the reincarnate of the previous 10th Panchen Lama, one of the most important spiritual leaders of Tibet. On 17 May 1995, three days after His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognized him as the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his parents disappeared from their home never to be heard or seen again.
Despite various appeals and campaigns from governmental and non-governmental organizations over the years, the Chinese government has not provided any concrete or verifiable evidence to support its claims that the Panchen Lama is living “a normal, happy life and receiving a good cultural education” and that he “does not want to be disturbed”. On 6 September 2015, responding to media queries, Norbu Dhondup, a senior official with the United Front Work Department of Tibet Autonomous Region reiterated these claims but failed to provide any evidence. The failure to provide any credible evidence on the condition and whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama makes the Chinese government guilty of the crime of enforced disappearance.
Today marks the 25th birthday of the XIth Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, one of the most important spiritual leaders of Tibet, who disappeared when he was 6 years old.[i] This is the 19th year in succession when Tibetans have to commemorate the birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in his absence.
On 14 May 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognised Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a son of nomadic parents, as the reincarnate Panchen Lama. A day later, the boy and his parents were disappeared from their home in Lhari County in Nagchu Prefecture in Central Tibet.[ii] The Chinese government initially denied allegations that he had been disappeared by Chinese government agents. A few months after the disappearance, Chinese government appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as its own Panchen Lama.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Tibet’s XIth Panchen Lama, one of the most important Tibetan spiritual leaders, turns 24 today under house arrest. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born on 25 April 1989 in Lhari County in Nagchu, Tibet. It is his 18th year in Chinese custody at an undisclosed location after he and his parents disappeared in 1995. He was only six years old when he was disappeared by the Chinese authorities.
For about 18 years, the Chinese authorities have wilfully misled the international community on the actual whereabouts and wellbeing of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family members, almost always sticking to the standard, unverifiable response that the “perfectly ordinary boy” is in “protective custody”, growing up in “excellent state of health” and that his parents “did not want to be disturbed”.
March 17, 2005 marks the 10th year disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet. It has been ten long years that the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has failed to provide information on the whereabouts of the 16-year-old Panchen Lama.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, went missing with his family since 17 May 1995 after the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, officially recognized him as the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet. In his place, the PRC government appointed another child named Gyaltsen Norbu as the Panchen Lama but the majority of the Tibetans calls him the “fake” Panchen Lama. Despite repeated requests from the international community, independent observers have not been given access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima to see if he is in good health and receiving a proper education. The continued detention or disappearance of the Panchen Lama for a decade contradicts PRC’s obligation as a permanent member of the United Nations, and as a signatory member to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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