Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On his 18th brithday the Panchen Lama is still missing

I am sure that this is not the kind of news that Chinese government wants the world to be focused on as the Olympic Games in Beijing draw ever closer. I am not a practitioner of any of the Tibetan Buddhist schools or an adherent of any of the lamas, but at heart this is a human rights issue...

Beijing, China -- Today, 25 April 2007, marks the 18th birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima- the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet who along with his parents has been missing for the past twelve years.

In the last decade numerous governments and independent organizations have pressed the authorities in Beijing to disclose the whereabouts and well being of Panchen Lama and his family. Regrettably, the authorities have so far given various excuses for denying access to the Panchen Lama and his family.

Last year in reply to questions submitted by Reuters, the State Council Information Office said China had not arranged meetings between the boy and foreign organizations or media out of respect for the family's wishes not to be disturbed. Similarly, since 1997, China has failed to provide written document as demanded by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the Commission on Human Rights to support China’s claim that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family wished not to be disturbed by outsiders.
Moreover, in September 2005, Chinese authorities informed the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is in "good health and just like any other children is leading a normal, happy life and receiving a good cultural education".

A year later, in an official communication from China claimed to a UN rights expert that Gedhun Choekyi is not the Panchen Lama but "merely an ordinary Tibetan child" but China has persistently refused an independent expert to visit him in order to confirm his welfare and well-being.

In the latest initiative, human rights group, Amnesty International raised concern about the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama with the Chinese government and asked the Chinese authorities to allow him freedom of movement. In addition, this year during the UN Human Rights Council meeting a joint statement was made by 15 NGOs describing the disappearance of the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet a continuous crime.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour, raised the case of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima to the Chinese authorities during an official visit to China from 29 August- 2 September 2005.

Likewise, the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom and Belief, Ms.
Asma Jahangir, on 9 January 2005 raised her concern, “about the grave interference with the freedom of belief of the Tibetan Buddhists who have the right to determine their clergy in accordance with their own rites and who have been deprived of their religious leader...”

The Buddhist Channel

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