The Tibetan government-in-exile has accused China of abducting the 11th Panchen Lama as a boy 20 years ago and holding him as a political prisoner ever since.
A spokesperson for the Tibetan government-in-exile said it has appealed for its supporters to urge their own governments to pressure China into releasing the missing spiritual leader. The exiled Tibetans argue that the Chinese government abducted Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as a six-year-old boy on May 17, 1995, some days after he was recognised by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama and appointed to his religious post.
Exiles insist that the alleged abduction was politically motivated, due to the Panchen Lama’s influence in recognising the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. According to the Tibetan spokesperson, the Chinese government captured the young boy so that they could anoint a new Panchen Lama of their choosing, the Associated Press reports.
The spokesman of the Tibetan government-in-exile said it would ramp up efforts to get information on the Panchan Lama’s whereabouts. “It’s not a political issue, but a religious one, and it concerns the fundamental way of Tibetan life,” Tashi Phuntsok said.
He said the government-in-exile would name May 17 as the “International Solidarity Day with Tibet,” and ask supporters to write to their governments and ask that pressure be put on China for answers.
This incident has renewed significance given the impending transition of spiritual leadership in Tibet as the 14th Dalai Lama continues to age. Pro-Tibetans are wary that his passing will bring with it an opportunity for the Communist Party to groom a puppet leader and proclaim them as the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. Foreseeing the possibility that such a move would splinter the pro-Tibetan movement, the current Dalai Lama declared that he would not be reincarnated, raising the ire of the CCP for encouraging Tibetans to reject a Chinese-installed Dalai Lama.
This has been a tense time for the turbulent region recently, with a Chinese white paper accusing the Dalai Lama of publishing a self-immolation guide, and a CCP official revealing that Tibetan monks would be subject to new ‘patriotism’ tests.
By Liam Bourke