Dharamshala — Tibetans living-in-exile in Dharamshala on Tuesday observed the 'disappearance' anniversary of the second-most powerful figure in Tibetan Buddhism, 11th Panchen Lama, who has been missing since he was six.
A discussion on the enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who happens to be termed by Human Rights organizations as the "youngest political prisoner in the world".
On 14 May 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was named the 11th Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama. After his selection, he was kidnapped by authorities of the People's Republic of China and has not been seen in public since 17 May 1995.
On Wednesday, May 17, he completed his 21st year in captivity. His Capture also assumes a political intervention by the Chinese establishment to have a say in the re-incarnation of the next Dalai Lama. the Chinese have also appointed their own Panchen Lama who is also referred to as Panchen Dzuma(Fake Panchen).
"We are gathered here, we do not know his whereabouts, we do not know his address and we do not know where to send it, so through these letters, we are trying to create awareness about Panchen Lama, we are trying to tell the world that he has been abducted for too long and we are trying to tell the world that China has forcefully disappeared Panchen Lama and we do not know about his address," an activist said.
The coalition of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Students for a Free Tibet and Regional Tibetan Women's Association organized the "letters to Panchen Lama" and an open marathon race commemorative of the day.
The Indo-Tibetan Friendship Association held a panel discussion over the Panchen Lama's disappearance where educationist and author Prof P.N Sharma and Ms Kalden Tsomo from the CTA's DIIR spoke.
Tsering Tsomo, director of TCHRD, said that failing to provide any concrete evidence of Panchen Lama's health conditions, whereabouts and proof of life makes the Chinese government guilty of his enforced disappearance.
"The Chinese government can never hope to win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people by using religion for political ends. The failure of the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, to command genuine devotion and loyalty from the Tibetan people attests to this fact," she added.
When asked about the United Nations resolutions and other documents being just recommendatory in nature and having no enforcing capabilities she mentioned that the UN is like a toothless tiger which without having any measures to force or impose changes focuses on talks between nations and hence takes a lot of time, this has also been used by the Chinese establishment as a loophole numerous times in the past.
Prof P.N Sharma when asked to say how India's passive approach to china is going ahead called the government lacadaisical in its approach and gave numerous instances in history right from 1962 attack, the building of dams on the Tibet plateau through which a lot of fresh water as a resource has been denied to other Asian countries, he also mentioned that this country is now facing a drought scenario in several areas.
He further said that not only India but several countries in the world are equally taking a passive stance as who portray themselves as democracies which say that they respect the value of human life and the rights that come with it are simply not wanting to bell the cat.
“The perspective on Panchen Lama is both bleak and brilliant. It is bleak because the party on the other side is a shameless example of humanity. After the occupation of our land, the Chinese have pursued policies that have not only looted and destroyed the civilisation, culture, monastic system and all that Tibet stood for, they had the temerity to pass law to control incarnations and monastery,” said Sharma.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama have been complimentary to each other, in the sense that both have helped in selection of the successor of one another and in education of one another. Now the Chinese have passed a law that no lama can be considered valid unless he has been recognised by the Chinese government, “he said, arguing that the CCP as an atheist government has no credibility to interfere in the religious practice of Tibetan people.