Panchen Lama

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama

Amsterdam: The International Campaign for Tibet has called upon UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to raise the case of the missing 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, during his visit to China this week (19-23 May). Annan’s visit begins on 19 May, just two days after the 11th anniversary of the Panchen Lama’s disappearance on 17 May 1995. The young Panchen Lama has not been seen in public since.

The Joint Appeal was initiated by ICT and co-signed by Human Rights in China, the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organization and Free Tibet Campaign, and calls upon Kofi Annan to do everything possible during his visit to China to urge the Chinese leadership to allow international access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. Annan will meet with Chinese President Hu and Prime Minister Wen during his 4-day visit.

“We know that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was the number one person of concern for the UN Human Rights Chief Louise Arbour when she visited Beijing in August 2005 and yet China refused to give any new information. It is shameful that China, a new member of the UN’s Human Rights Council, has shown so little regard for the UN and international opinion. We want Secretary General Annan to make the fate of the Panchen Lama his personal priority in his final year in office,” said Stewart Watters of ICT Europe.

The full text of the Joint Appeal follows:

Joint Appeal to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Visit to China

Amsterdam, 15 May 2006

Secretary General Annan,

On 19 May 2006 you will arrive in China, where you will meet with Chinese President Hu and Prime Minister Wen. Two days before your arrival in China, on 17 May, Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet will mourn the eleventh anniversary of the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. Then a child of six years, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was last seen on 17 May 1995 in the custody of Chinese Public Security officials, just days after HH the Dalai Lama recognized him as the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama. Now 17-years of age and eleven years on, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is still missing. This letter is an appeal to you to do everything possible during your visit to China to urge the Chinese leadership to allow international access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.

In 1996 the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the disappearance of this child. In 2005 the CRC called on China to allow an independent body to verify the fate of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. In 2002, then-UN Human Rights chief Mary Robinson requested the right to visit the Panchen Lama and was denied. In 2005 the current UN Human Rights chief Louise Arbour again asked for information on the Panchen Lama without effect. The UN’s Working Group on Enforced Disappearance regards Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as a Disappeared Person.

Yet at no point has China ever given any indication that it intends to comply with these urgent appeals. It is tragic that there has been so little progress in the case of this innocent child. Even more tragic, when one considers that China is a member of the UN Security Council and a new member of the UN Human Rights Council.

Secretary General Annan, in this 11th year of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s detention you must succeed where the UN has thus far failed. We urge you in the strongest terms to make the fate of this boy a personal priority during your upcoming visit to China. China must live up to its obligations and allow an independent representative to meet with the Panchen Lama and his family immediately and without conditions.

In your final year in office, please make this your legacy to the Tibetan people.

The Undersigned,

  • International Campaign for Tibet – USA, Netherlands, Germany
  • Human Rights in China – USA
  • Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization – Netherlands
  • Free Tibet Campaign – United Kingdom