Human Rights WatchThe New York-based human rights monitoring organization Human Rights Watch has urged President George Bush to raise the issue of the Panchen Lama during the upcoming summit with President Hu Jintao and to ask that United Nations representatives have access to the detained Tibetan religious leader.

In a letter to President Bush dated April 5, 2006, Brad Adams, Executive Director, Asia Division of Human Rights Watch talked about the situation in Tibet and said:

“The Chinese government views religion as fostering ethnic identity and separatist tendencies among Uighurs and Tibetans, and strictly controls religious expression and cultural markers in Xinjiang and Tibet. In July 2005, the chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region implied that Chinese officials intend to control the selection of the next Dalai Lama. In addition, the March 2005 regulations give the Chinese government – not the Dalai Lama – the authority to select living Buddhas. Ten years ago the Chinese government expropriated from Tibetans the right to select the Panchen Lama, and took the young Panchen Lama chosen by the Dalai Lama and his family into custody; their whereabouts remain unknown. In 2005, the government claimed that the Panchen Lama was “the highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism,” an accreditation never before been given to anyone except the Dalai Lama.”

Human Rights Watch urged President Bush to call upon President Hu the following:” as an immediate step, allow access by members of the U.N.Committee on the Rights of the Child to the Panchen Lama designated by the Dalai Lama.”

The letter also asked President Bush to tell the Chinese leader that the release of some political and religious prisoners it itself “do nothing to remedy China’s human rights violations.” It said, “all political and religious prisoners imprisoned for peaceful activities should be released immediately and unconditionally and further arrests on such grounds should cease.” Human Rights Watch also said that the resumption of the U.S.-China human rights dialogue should await a commitment by China to implement such a policy.

The full text of the Human Rights Watch letter can be found here »