Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, and his family have been missing for 16 years.
On April 25 of this year, the Panchen Lama turned 22. All of the Regions of the The Tibetan Women's Association (RTWA) are deeply concerned about the Chinese governments' unending secrecy regarding the Panchen Lama's well-being. Padma Choling; Tibet's Chinese-appointed Governor, told reporters in March 2010 that:
"Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family are now living a good life as ordinary citizens in Tibet."
In reply, the TWA highlighted that:
‘Without evidence this statement remains empty and we demand Padma Choling to prove that it is true'.
A number of human rights mechanisms, including the UN Committee against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have also called for his whereabouts to be revealed.
"[The] TWA call on the moral conscience of the world, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in particular and the International bodies whose pressure holds some sway with his captors, to join our 16 years of anguish and earnest appeal for the expeditious release of Panchen Lama. We beseech the Chinese government to come to the understanding that this hostile gesture of the Chinese Government intervenes in the religious reverence of the Tibetan people and it is an intrusive way of maligning basic human rights".
Tonight the Twa have organised a global candlelight vigil, demanding Zhu Weiqun - Vice Minister of the ‘United Front Work Department' and China's official spokesperson for Tibetan affairs, to give proof of the Panchen Lamas whereabouts immediately.
The candlelight vigil commences tonight in Mcleod square, Dharamshala, and will conclude at Tsuglakhang temple. Such methods of peaceful protests are typical of the Tibetan struggle; which incorporate peaceful methods to raise awareness globally.
"The TWA is resolute and holds a steadfast commitment to work towards achieving our goal; to ensure the safe return of Panchen Lama to his rightful abode (Tashi Lhunpo Monastery), and to see the complete restoration of his political and religious rights".