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panchen-lamaDharamshala, India: On the event of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet's 23rd birthday, Tibetan NGOs and Tibet supporters from across the globe held campaigns and demonstrations demanding his whereabouts from the Chinese government Wednesday.

Four major Tibetan NGOs based in the exile Tibetan headquarters in Dharamsala held a day-long drive gathering petitions demanding the Panchen Lama's release. Petitioners were also encouraged to call the Chinese embassy to inquire the whereabouts of the Lama who was abducted in his childhood, soon after his identification as a reincarnated monk.

"Gedhun Choekyi Nyima's abduction is not only a violation of Tibet's religious freedom but also a human rights violation," stated Tashi Dolma, the newly elected President of Tibetan Women's Association.

"There was a report sometime back that the 11th Panchen Lama had died long ago which gave reason for us to be concerned. This is escalated by the presence of a widespread belief among Tibetans that the Chinese government had a hand in the untimely death of the 10th Panchen Lama," said Lukar Jam, Vice President of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet.

"China has violated The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by abducting Gedhun Choekyi Nyima." said Dorjee Tseten, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet, India. "The International community must hold China accountable for the abduction of the 11th Panchen Lama," he added.

Despite numerous requests by foreign diplomats and United Nations representatives for verification of his well-being and whereabouts, no tangible evidence have been provided by the Chinese Government on Gedhun Choekyi Nyima or his family since the Nyima's abduction as a six-year-old boy in 1995, shortly after his identification.

The last known information on the abducted monk was received in March 2010 when Padma Choling (Pema Thinley), the Chinese-appointed Governor of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) stated that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family were living ‘a good life' as ordinary citizens in Tibet, evidence to the ascertain the accuracy of which has not been provided by the Government of China till date.

"The abduction and disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the rightful Panchen Lama, and the instalment of Gyaltsen Norbu in his place is evidence enough of the fact that Tibetans in Tibet do not enjoy any special child rights, human rights or religious freedom, and that Chinese authorities have no regard whatsoever for these rights and freedoms," stated the press release which was jointly issued by the Tibetan Women's Association,
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Dharamsala and Student's for a Free Tibet, India.

OVERVIEW

A resident of Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born on 25th April 1989 and went missing on 17 May 1995, just days after his identification as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

Following the incident, Beijing handpicked another Tibetan boy named Gyaltsen Norbu to occupy the seat of the Panchen Lama.

He and his family have not been seen for nearly 17 years.

Despite constant international pressure, the Chinese government has refrained from disclosing the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family.

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