The Panchen Lama, who vanished as a six-year-old boy 20 years ago, is “growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed”, a Chinese government official told reporters yesterday.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was taken into custody by Chinese authorities on May 17, 1995, just days after he was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama and appointed to his religious post. He has not been seen in public since, and activists has long called on China to release the missing spiritual leader.
Responding to a question from Reuters at a press conference on Sunday, Norbu Dunzhub of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s United Front Work Department said that “The reincarnated child Panchen Lama you mentioned is being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed”.
China’s Communist Party, insisting that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is not the real Panchen Lama, named Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama back in 1995. However, many Tibetans consider him a fake.
Norbu Dunzhub’s remarks come months after a spokesperson for the Tibetan government-in-exile appealed for its supporters to put pressure on the Chinese government over the disappearance of the Panchen Lama, who would now be 26.
The reports also follow a statement made by the aging 14th Dalai Lama saying that he will not be reincarnated, infuriating CCP officials who believe he is encouraging Tibetans to reject a Chinese-appointed Dalai Lama.
“No matter what the Dalai Lama says or does, the central government’s recognized rights toward reincarnation cannot be denied,” Norbu Dunzhub said.