Tibetans urge China to free world's youngest political prisoner, 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, May 17, 2023. Photo: file

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Dharamshala – The Central Tibetan Administration and Tibetans around the world call upon the Chinese government to release the world's youngest political prisoner, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, and urge the international community to put pressure on China to release the 11th Panchen Lama on May 17, 2023.

On the 28th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima or Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR)of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has issued a statement on the release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and Tibetans in Canada, USA, France, UK, Switzerland and other European countries, Australia and India protest against the Chinese government for abducting Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family members, his teacher, and demand that his whereabouts be revealed and the 11th Panchen Lama be released on May 17, 2023.

The statement of DIIR stated,“This year on 17th May, we mark the 28th year of the enforced disappearance of then six-year-old 11th Panchen Lama, Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, popularly known as Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. Following the recognition of then six-years-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the Chinese government abducted the Panchen Lama along his family and Chadrel Rinpoche, who was responsible for leading the search committee for the reincarnation, just three days later. None of them have been seen since then. As one of the world’s longest-standing enforced disappearance cases, the Panchen Lama’s 28-year-long abduction serves as a grim reminder of the brutal oppression of the Chinese colonial regime against the Tibetans.”

“China’s interference in the selection process of the Panchen Lama shows their disregard for the fundamental human rights and religious beliefs of Tibetans, which are deeply rooted in Tibetan culture. Though China signed many UN rights treaties, China continues to show a blatant disregard for fundamental human rights and religious beliefs in Tibet through its repressive policies towards Tibetans. The international community has condemned China’s noncommittal actions in violating fundamental human rights and justice. Numerous international governments and organisations have issued resolutions and statements for the Chinese government to provide reliable information about the Panchen Lama,” the statement added.

The DIIR has put forward two demands to the Chinese government:

We urge them to reveal credible information about the whereabouts and well-being of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, and his parents.

We call upon the Chinese government to respect the basic human rights of Tibetans, including an immediate halt to the forced disappearance of prominent religious figures, leaders, and advocates in the community.

We will continue to hold them accountable for their severe violations against Tibetan people, and demand that they adhere to international conventions.