By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 23 April 2019
Thirty Tibetan activists of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) are making their way to Delhi on motorcycles to raise awareness about the Panchen Lama, who turns 30 on 25 April.
Those taking part say the rally is to support Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama, and to seek his release from the Chinese captivity.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was born on 25 April 1989 in Lhari County, Tibet, was chosen by the Dalai Lama on 15 May 1995 as the 11th Panchen Lama, which is the second highest position in Tibetan Buddhism.
Three days later Chinese authorities abducted him when he was six, along with his family. His whereabouts have not been known since then.
Later that year on 29 November 1995, Chinese authorities announced their pick of the Panchen Lama in Gyaltsen Norbu. Tibetans have refused to accept him as the Panchen Lama.
The Chinese government have not provided any information about the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in the last more than 20 years, alleging that they need to protect him from being “kidnapped by the separatists”. However the Dalai Lama last year said that the Panchen is alive and pursuing normal education, citing reliable sources.
Expressing concern about the well-being of the Panchen Lama, and the destruction of the religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of Tibetans by the Chinese authorities, the US government has over the years called for the Panchen Lama’s release.
The 30 activists will be riding through Chandigarh and Sonipath, and will reach Delhi on 25 April for an event for the Panchen Lama on his 30th birthday.
TYC President Tenzing Jigme said that they believe in Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the real Panchen Lama, and demanded that the Chinese government immediately release him, as well as other political prisoners in Chinese prisons in Tibet.
Criticising the Chinese government for interfering in the recognition of Tibetan lamas, Jigme said, “The Chinese government has no role in the matters of Tibetan tradition and spirituality. Such interference will be rejected by the Tibetan people.”