Ambassador Brownback, flanked by ICT’s Matteo Mecacci and Tencho Gyatso, holds a picture of the Panchen Lama.

April 25, 2018 marks the 29th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, who has not been seen in public since he was taken away by Chinese authorities in 1995 at age 6.

In a meeting with United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, ICT President Matteo Mecacci discussed the important role the United States government can play in securing the Panchen Lama’s release. Ambassador Brownback reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to call on the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and provide the truth on his wellbeing and whereabouts, as well as ensuring the respect of religious freedom for the Tibetan people.

While speaking to reporters in India this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his hopes for the Panchen Lama and explained that he has ‘reliable information’ asserting that the Panchen Lama is still alive. Differentiating the real Panchen Lama (Gedhun Choekyi Nyima), whom the Dalai Lama recognized in accordance with Tibetan Buddhist tradition, from the ‘official’ Panchen Lama recognized by Beijing (Gyaltsen Norbu), His Holiness said:

“I hope, the official Panchen Lama also study quite well under the guidance of one good teacher. Then the Panchen Lama, which I recognised, sometime back [there was] no news, but then according to reliable information, he is still alive and carrying normal education. So we will see.”

Enforced disappearance, as defined in the UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, is a continuous crime until the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person becomes known. Accordingly, the enforced disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a crime that has been continuously committed by the People’s Republic of China since May 17, 1995.