Statement of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery [Seat of The Panchen Lamas] on the 14th Birthday of The 11th Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima.
Our sincere greetings to fellow Tibetans in and outside Tibet, and to all our friends and supporters all over the world on this auspicious occasion of the birthday of The Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima. We also want to share our greetings and well wishes with Gendhun Choekyi Nyima on this His 14th birthday. While there have been positive developments related to the release of Tibetan political prisoners in recent months, we remain extremely concerned for the safety of The Panchen Lama, His family, and Chadrel Rinpoche who were hastily abducted for no apparent reason on May 17, 1995, by The People’s Republic of China (PRC).His Holiness The Panchen Lama who is turning 14 years old today, traditionally, would be celebrating His birthday with the Monks of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and the Tibetan people. But that’s not the case today, since the 2nd highest spiritual leader of Tibet is celebrating His birthday without any freedom and apart from the Tibetan community. This is an unthinkable atrocity against an important spiritual leader, and more significantly, a young teenager.
Historically, the lineage of the Panchen Lamas has been instrumental in the flourishing of Buddhism in Tibet. Regardless of the fact that Gendhun Choekyi Nyima is not free and able to directly teach and guide Buddhist practitioners throughout the world, His influence and greatness remains strong in the hearts of all of us. Therefore, Buddhism and activism on behalf of Tibet has gained greater momentum as a result of His Holiness The Dalai Lama recognizing Gendhun Choekyi Nyima as the Panchen Lama at the young age of 6 years old.
This relationship between Tibet’s two highest leaders began in the 16th century when the 4th Panchen Lama recognized the 5th Dalai Lama. At that time, The Panchen Lama was responsible for giving religious training to the young 5th Dalai Lama. When The 10th Panchen Lama mysteriously died in Tibet on January 28, 1989, His Holiness the current Dalai Lama through various rigorous Buddhist rituals, prayers, consultation, and investigation began searching for this reincarnation. Finally, on May 14, 1995, His Holiness announced that Gendhun Choekyi Nyima was the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. A few days later, this 6 year old child was abducted by The PRC and His whereabouts have been unknown since that time. As a result, the young Panchen Lama has not been able to receive His proper Buddhist training and education from His teachers including The Dalai Lama, nor directly serve His people, Monastery, and followers.
Since Gendhun Choekyi Nyima’s disappearance on May 17, 1995, there has been a massive campaign to secure His release. It is essential to understand that this effort to free the 11th Panchen Lama is not simply about Tashi Lhunpo Monastery’s desire to reunite with its’ leader. Rather, this campaign is motivated by the wishes and goals of the 6 million Tibetans in Tibet and in-exile, and their supporters to secure the immediate freedom of this 14 year old spiritual leader.
Therefore, we at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, on behalf of the 6 million Tibetans worldwide and our supporters, respectfully appeal to the government and human rights’ leaders of the free world to demand that The PRC respond immediately to the following:
- Why was The Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, abducted?
- Where is The Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, and when He will be free?
- How is Gendhun Choekyi Nyima’s health?
- When will officials from the Tibetan Government In-Exile, Human Rights organizations, and other government officials from the free world have access to Gendhun Choekyi Nyima?
- Where and how is Chadrel Rinpoche, the regent of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and Lama who led the search for the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama?
- When will Chadrel Rinpoche be released?
We deeply express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to our supporters all over the world who have tirelessly worked and continue to work to free The Panchen Lama. We also wish Gendhun Choekyi Nyima a very Happy Birthday! With our prayers for an early release of The Panchen Lama, His family, and Chadrel Rinpoche, and an early end of the suffering of the Tibetan people. And also our prayers for the long life of The Dalai Lama and The Panchen Lama to continue to benefit all living beings.
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
April 25, 2003