The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) had reported on August 4, 2003 that Gyaltsen Norbu, the boy selected by the Chinese Government as their Panchen Lama, had arrived in Kumbum Monastery in Amdo region (present-day Qinghai Province). ICT also reported that Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized by the Dalai Lama, has not been seen since 1995.
“The Panchen Lama arrived three days ago. I don’t know how long he will stay here,” a monk official, who heads the officially appointed Democratic Management Committee in the monastery, told AFP referring to the Chinese-selected boy.
A majority of Tibetans, both in Tibet and outside, do not accept the Chinese-appointed boy as the Panchen Lama.
When asked about the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on August 5, 2003 that he is leading a normal life and studying well. In an attempt to allay international concern about the wellbeing of the Panchen Lama, the Chinese Spokesman said, “He is now in a good healthy condition, leading a normal and happy life.” However, he added, “He is not the incarnated soul boy,” reiterating the official Chinese position.
The physical wellbeing of the Panchen Lama has been a matter of great concern to Tibetans, Buddhists and friends of Tibet throughout the world. There is a coordinated international campaign for the Panchen Lama’s release and restoration of his spiritual position.