Former Tibetan political prisoner Ngawang Sangdrol urged the international community to continue undertaking actions for the release of the Panchen Lama saying her experience showed that his release is possible.

Participating in a rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. on the evening of April 25, the Panchen Lama’s 14th birthday, Sangdrol said she was filled with both joy and sorrow to be participating in her first-ever demonstration while in freedom.

Sangdrol said it was joyful that she was able to demonstrate in freedom without any fear of Chinese reprisal, but at the same time she was filled with sorrow to have had to leave her homeland.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama in 1995 and has not been seen in public since then. The Chinese authorities claim that he is under protective custody.

Speaking from her own experience, Sangdrol informed Tibetans and Tibet supporters that their actions had concrete benefits for Tibetans imprisoned in Tibet. The Chinese authorities tend to adopt a more lenient attitude towards a particular prisoner when they know that there is international attention focused on that prisoner.

Sangdrol is currently undergoing medical examination in Washington, D.C.

Organized by the Capital Area Tibetan Association (CATA), Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), the rally in Washington, D.C. began with a prayer for the long life of the Panchen Lama by monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, who are visiting Washington.

President of CATA Namka Tenzin talked about the situation in Tibet. ICT U.S. Executive Director Mary Beth Markey announced a new initiative on the Panchen Lama campaign and read excerpts from the statement by Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. George Washington University’s SFT representative Nana Kessie explained why the student community felt strongly on the issue of the Panchen Lama.

Despite inclement weather the more than 50 Tibetans and Tibet supporters carried placards and shouted slogans for the release of the Panchen Lama and for freedom in Tibet.