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panchen lama release demandsDharamshala — In accordance with the 22nd anniversary of the disappearance of 6-year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the boy recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, the Tibetan Women's Association led a march from Mcleod Ganj down the hill to lower Dharamshala on May 17th demanding his release by Chinese authorities.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was recognized as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, Lobsang Trinlet Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on May 15th, 1995. Within just three days, the young Panchen Lama and his family disappeared, allegedly kidnapped by the Chinese authorities, and 22 years later, his whereabouts remain unknown. The Panchen Lama is the second highest Lama in Tibetan Buddhism, after the institution of the Dalai Lama.

Hundreds of women joined the march, carrying pictures of the 11th Panchen Lama and signs reading 'Where is the 11th Panchen Lama? Only China can answer.' The march culminated in a rally of Tibetans and supporters who shouted slogans such as 'Where is Tibet Penchen Lama?' 'UN, we want justice!' 'Release Penchen Lama!' and 'People of the world, Support us!'

The Tibetan Women's Association (TWA) said in a press release also released on Wednesday, "The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima turned 28 years old on April 25th 2017, and it has now been 22 years since he was abducted by the Chinese authorities. Despite repeated requests and demands by the Tibetan people as well as by various concerned individuals, organizations, parliamentarians and governments of the world for the release of the young Panchen Lama, the Chinese Government have not revealed any information on the well-being and whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama.

"Not even a photograph of the 11th Panchen Lama has been available for the millions of people who wish to know how the 11th Panchen Lama looked like as a young reincarnation who is 28 years old now. He is a grown up young man and the Chinese government has no right to keep him in detention."

Calling for immediate action, TWA listed several demands for the Chinese government, including proving the health and wellbeing of the 11th Panchen Lama, allowing independent bodies under the auspice of the United Nations to meet the Panchen Lama, and his ultimate release from Chinese custody.

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