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Statement by Tashi Lhunpo Monastery on the 18th Birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, April 25, 2007

Press Statement by Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, India and Central Association for HH the Panchen Lama

Commemoration of the 18th Birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama
Gendun Choekyi Nyima on 25 April 2007.

The Abbot and all the monks of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery with great respect wish for the health and happiness of HH the Panchen Lama on his 18th birthday. However, we celebrate this anniversary in a solemn fashion and with a heavy heart.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, was officially recognised as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 15th May 1995. On 17th May 1995, the Chinese government kidnapped and forcefully detained the 11th Panchen Lama and his family. Since that time, the whereabouts of the young Panchen Lama and his family have been unknown. In spite of frequent international appeals for information and in the face of serious criticism, China continues with the illegal detention of the young Panchen Lama, and persistently refuses to comply.

It is now clear that the destiny of the present Panchen Lama is that he is to be made the victim of political gimmicks and deceit. The Chinese government kidnapped and detained without charge the young innocent Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima. Moreover, the Chinese government appointed another boy, named Gyaltsen Norbu, as the “Beijing-approved” version of the Panchen Lama. These actions were taken to serve the political interests of the Chinese government by attempting to undermine the authority of His Holiness Dalai Lama and hurting the religious sentiments of the Tibetan people.

The Panchen Lama has always been an important figure in Tibet's political and religious history. Tibetans hold him to be a supremely holy being. In particular, the 10th Panchen Lama devoted his entire life to fighting for the rights and freedom of the Tibetan people during one of our country’s darkest periods. His contribution was instrumental in seeking redress for the atrocities committed against Tibetan people by the Chinese government.

The Chinese government often declares that Tibetan people are allowed to exercise their religious freedom. However, the case of the Panchen Lama clearly contradicts these claims and highlights the true state of religious repression in Tibet. In response to the prevailing dire situation in Tibet, Tibetan people across the globe, Buddhist communities, and international organizations (both governmental and non-governmental) have been making severe criticisms of China. However, China continues to hold a misguided, hard-line policy in Tibet, without taking into consideration the present reality, or the genuine concerns of the international community. The positive gestures of reconciliation made by HH the Dalai Lama to Beijing should be accepted in good faith and in a positive light as a way to solve the Tibetan issue through mutual understanding. We sincerely hope that the Chinese Government will implement the policies enshrined in their constitution as well as in international law, and that this will lead to peaceful resolution of the Tibetan issue, and in particular the issue of H.H. the Panchen Lama.

Therefore, we demand the Chinese government to immediately disclose the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama and his family and to arrange for their immediate release.

On the anniversary of the 18th birthday of His Holiness the Panchen Lama, and nearing the 12th anniversary of his detention, we once again reiterate our demands to Chinese government, to:

  1. Provide exact information concerning the whereabouts of the11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima. Allow representatives from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, India or representatives of the United Nations, to be allowed to make a fact-finding inquiry into the well-being of Panchen Lama.
  2. Immediately release the Panchen Lama and his family from detention and give him the opportunity to undertake his traditional studies with complete freedom.
  3. Officially enthrone the Panchen Lama at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (Tibet), the seat of His Holiness the Panchen Lama, without any restriction.
  4. Release Chadrel Rinpoche and Jampa Chung la, and restore them to their previous     positions.

To avoid any further disagreement between the Chinese government and Tibetan people, it is imperative that the Chinese government comply with and resolve positively the above-mentioned demands.

On the occasion of the Panchen Lama’s 18th birthday, we thank all the individuals and organizations who have persistently campaigning for the release of the Panchen Lama and for the Tibetan cause in general, and continue to do so. We offer particular thanks to the work of the ICT (International Campaign for Tibet), ITIM (International Tibet Independent Movement) and TWA(Tibetan Women’s Association).

We pray for a swift, just and peaceful resolution to the Tibetan issue and we look forward to the day on which the H.H. Dalai Lama and the H.H. Panchen Lama (the sun and the moon) will be united, and the bright rays of the Dharma will once again prevail in peace in Free Tibet.

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