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17may20106Dharamshala: Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of Dharamshala today remembers the 15-year anniversary of the abduction and imprisonment of the 11th Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima by the People's Republic of China (PRC). Approximately 100 people gathered at the main temple for the anniversary. One of the main guests present was Mr. Jampal Monlam, assistant director of the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy. He talked of the recognition of the 11th Panchen Lama by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the subsequent imprisonment of the Panchen Lama by the PRC.

Later, Mr. Dhondup Lhadhar, the General Secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress, addressed the gathering. He spoke about the 10th Panchen Lama, who lived in a Chinese prison for 14 years, and was killed in 1989 by the Chinese government because of the China/Tibet issue. He expressed the importance for the Tibetan people to remember this as part of their history.

He elaborated on the imprisonment of both the 10th and 11th Panchen Lama for 14 and 15 years respectively. Indeed, the 11th Panchen Lama is believed to be a reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, and therefore the incarceration of one person, yet two lives, is unique within world history.

Mr. Lhadhar then talked of the United Nations and their promotion of Human Rights and international peace. However the reality of the situation is that when the 11th Panchen Lama was imprisoned - at the age of 6 - the UN did not put pressure on China for his release. He felt this signified a severe lack of human rights.

Mr. Lhadhar expressed that although prayer is essential, the struggle for freedom is more important. During the Cultural Revolution Tibetans were prohibited from praying and their political and religious freedom was restricted. As such, attendance at the demonstration marking this anniversary and the desire for freedom should be a top priority for the Tibetan people.

In Tibetan History, there have been two times when people have passed away and the Lama's have not been allowed to attend the invitations to pray for those affected. The first occasion was during the Cultural Revolution. However, secondly and more recently, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was prevented from visiting those affected by the earthquake that struck Tibet in April this year.

Today the demonstration started at the main Temple in McLeod Ganj and finished in lower Dharamshala. Signatures were collected as part of a petition for the release of the 11th Panchen Lama. This afternoon, prayers will be said in McLeod Ganj and candles lit in memory of the anniversary.