As the world marks International Day of the Disappeared, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and other NGOs are calling on China to stop forcibly disappearing Tibetans and others persecuted by the Chinese Communist regime.

ICT has signed on to a letter from the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) saying that “enforced disappearance has become a tactic explicitly used by the Chinese Communist Party to stifle criticism and threaten dissent” and urging China to “change its practices, including by repealing legal provisions allowing for enforced disappearance in all its forms.”

Since 2011, International Day of the Disappeared has been observed every year on Aug. 30.

Tibetan disappeared for calling for world peace

This year, ISHR is highlighting the cases of five people forcibly disappeared by the Chinese government, including Lodoe Gyatso, a Tibetan peace activist who was sentenced to 18 years in prison shortly after after he had been released from a 20-year prison term.

Lodoe Gyatso was detained on Jan. 28, 2018 while campaigning for world peace as he marched around the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

Lodoe Gyatso

His wife, Gakyi, was also arrested and sentenced to two years in jail, according to sources.

Since his arrest, Lodoe Gyatso’s location and status have been withheld from the public. A Chinese court official told Voice of America that his case was a “state secret.”

In a video released as part of ISHR’s campaign, Ngawang Thapa, Lodoe Gyato’s nephew and a member of the Tibetan Parliament in exile in India, says,“At the moment, we don’t know his whereabouts, nor the prison in which he is being held. We don’t even know whether or not he is alive.”

Lodoe Gyatso had previously been arrested for killing a man armed with a gun who had attacked him. While in prison, he took part in a demonstration calling for China to leave Tibet. This led to him being severely tortured and reportedly sentenced to death before his sentence was eventually commuted under international pressure.

High-ranking Buddhist leader remains missing

Tibet, a historically independent country, was annexed by China in 1959 when the Dalai Lama was forced to flee into exile for safety.

Under Chinese rule, Tibetans have faced brutal human rights violations, racial discrimination and the devastation of their unique religion and culture.

The most prominent disappeared person from Tibet is Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, one of the most important leaders in Tibetan Buddhism.

In 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was abducted by the Chinese government when he was just six years old. Neither he nor his family have been seen in public since.

On this International Day of the Disappeared, ICT once again calls on China to immediately free the Panchen Lama, as well as all political prisoners in Tibet.