The vigil marked the 16th anniversary Gedhun Choekyi Nyimas' abduction, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet. He was 6 years old when he was taken into custody by Chinese authorities, and has not been officially seen since.
Despite at first strong winds blowing out the flames of the candles, around 100 residents marched through McLeod Ganj, defiantly singing and chanting. Photos of the Panchen Lama were held aloft, and enormous Tibetan flags were waved as the peaceful protesters made their path through the town. The parade consisted largely of local residents, as well as green-clad members of the TWA, local monks, and some curious tourists. Heads turned and traffic stopped as the vigil made its way down the hill to Tsuglakhang temple, which was by now lit up in the orange evening sunset.
Upon arrival at the Temple, thunder began to roll out dramatically across the surrounding valley. Protesters lit their candles in the shelter of Tsuglakhang temple sanctuary, and the crowd gathered round the speakers of the TWA, who put forward their proposal to the crowd.
In an interview for the Tibet Post International, Karma, head of the TWA highlighted: "It's been 16 years since the Panchen Lama was abducted. We are sent news from China that he is living a normal life in Tibet. These are mere words. We want concrete evidence. We want him back in his home at Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Tibet. It has been 16 very long years and the Chinese have not given us a result. We are very disappointed".
As the vigil, marking the 16th anniversary of the Panchen Lama's abduction, drew to a close, Monks began to blow enormous Tibetan Long-Horns, and the crowd that had gathered raised their voices defiantly: ‘Release the Panchen Lama!".