May 04, 2020

Tibet: Free Panchen Lama!

UNPO calls on China to immediately release the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima became the world’s youngest political prisoner and has not been seen since his abduction by China, exactly 25 years ago.

The Panchen Lama is one of the most important religious leaders in Tibet. The 10th Panchen Lama, a vocal advocate of Tibet cultural and identity, passed away mysteriously in 1989. In 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama conducted elaborate religious rites and rituals for identification of the reincarnation and recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama. Within three days of recognition, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was kidnapped from his home by Chinese authorities, along with his family. He was just six years old.

Six months after Gedhun's abduction, China announced that it had found the "real" reincarnation. They named Gyaltsen Norbu, a Tibetan boy and the son of two Communist Party members, as the Panchen Lama.

Two cases about Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima are still pending at the United Nations - one with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance and the other with the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Various UN Committees and Special Rapporteurs including Committee Against Torture and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion have questioned China and called for his release. However, Beijing has consistently refused to disclose information about the whereabouts of Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family.

This case is one of the most symbolic examples of China's assault on human rights and freedom of religion. UNPO joins the global campaign for the immediate release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family, and calls on the international community to hold China accountable for its crimes under international law.