Tibetan Buddhist monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in south India held a peaceful prayer vigil for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, outside of the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, on November 7.

The seven monks are touring North America lecturing at universities and giving performances.

Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, all of the great Tibetan monasteries, including Tashi Lhunpo, have been re-established in South India under the direction of the Dalai Lama.

New monks from Tibet and the Himalayan region continue to join the monastery in order to study traditional texts in a rigorous university setting, without the constraints imposed by Chinese authorities inside Tibet.

In May 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the six year-old boy identified by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, disappeared.

In 1996 the Chinese government admitted to holding the boy and his family in “protective custody.”

After repeated attempts to locate and visit the boy, not one international agency or human rights organization has been allowed to meet with the Panchen Lama or his family, and their condition remains uncertain.

In an attempt to establish their pre-eminence in all “internal affairs” of China, political or otherwise, the atheist Chinese government nominated and selected their own 11th Panchen Lama in November 1995.

Their selection, a six year-old boy named Gyaltsen Norbu, is another young victim of China’s efforts to control the Tibetan people and their religious practices.

This is the monks’ first trip to Washington, DC, and North America. On November 10th, the monks performed a showcase of traditional Tibetan and Buddhist culture at George Washington University.

The Tashi Lhunpo monks have spent two months touring Canada and the U.S. They will spend another nine months touring the America.