Italian parliamentarians; Roberto Rampi Nobili Luciano – IV, Matteo Luigi Bianchi and Antonella Incerti. Photo: File

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Rome –  Members of the Italian Parliament expressed serious concern over the continued abduction of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima by China which is “a serious human rights issue, in particular, the violation of Tibetan people’s right to freedom of religion and belief.”

In a statement. they "call for his immediate release along with his entire family unconditionally. He was kidnapped by the Chinese authorities when he was 6-year-old and has not been seen in public since 17th May 1995," according to the Office of Tibet, Geneva.

While expressing their strong concerns over “China’s continued disregard of its international human rights obligations,” the Parliamentarians said that the Chinese authorities to “respect Tibetans’ right to freedom of religion and right to choose their own religious heads without governmental interference.”

The statement further emphasized that China has suppressed Tibetans’ right to religious freedom in Tibet for the last six decades in order to abuse the religious institutions as “a means to gain control over Tibetans.”

Joining the global call for the release of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Italian Parliamentarians called upon China to “immediately reveal the fate and whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.”

Chhimey Rigzen, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Office of Tibet, Geneva, thanked the Italian Parliamentarians for their public support and said “Italy has been hit hard by the Wuhan originated COVID-19 pandemic. We send our heartfelt condolences to our Italian brothers and sisters who lost their loved ones to this pandemic and send our earnest prayers for the speedy recovery of all the patients."

"In spite of their own sufferings, Italians have shown solidarity to the sufferings of Tibetans which exemplifies the basic human values of compassion and love. Thank you for supporting the just cause of Tibet and the Tibetan movement for truth and justice," Representative Rigzen said, adding: "We hope China heeds to the global call for the release of Panchen Lama and respects the right of the Tibetans to choose our own religious heads without any interference from the Chinese Communist Party government.”