The 17 May 2021 marks the 26th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet, by the Chinese security forces. China’s abduction of the then 6-year-old Panchen Lama in 1995, three years after it ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is a blatant violation of its obligations as a signatory state.
To observe the 26th anniversary of Panchen Lama’s disappearance, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has launched a video campaign that features prominent researchers, journalists, and activists on China and Tibet calling upon the Chinese government to provide credible evidence on the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and to release him immediately. The campaign reminds the Chinese government that advocacy actions for Panchen Lama’s release will continue until the Panchen Lama is released and his human rights restored.
The international community remains concerned about Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and wellbeing as was evident in the US State Department’s call for his release. Ahead of the Panchen Lama’s 32nd birthday on 22 April this year, the State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price called for a meeting with the Panchen Lama in person, and added, “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.”
Reiterating its call for Panchen Lama’s release, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom termed the lack of information about the Tibetan spiritual leader’s whereabouts and wellbeing “unacceptable”.
TCHRD calls upon the Chinese authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of the Panchen Lama and his family. The Chinese government must provide verifiable information on his whereabouts, and allow independent bodies unfettered access to meet him and his family.