A group of determined Tibetan exiles is cycling to the UN HQ in New York from Washington this week, to raise awareness about one of the most important religious figures in Tibet, the 11th Panchen Lama, who has been held in Chinese custody for a decade.

The Tibetans, including former nomads and monks who now live in exile, leave Washington DC on their five-day journey to the UN headquarters in New York this week to raise awareness of the plight of the 11th Panchen Lama. They are scheduled to arrive in New York on his birthday on Monday (25 April), where they will deliver a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York asking him to pressure the Chinese government to release Gendun Choekyi Nyima, recognized as the Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.

“There are so many questions about him remain unanswered,” said Gendun, who was a monk in Tibet before he fled into exile in 1992.

Another of the cyclists, Rinbo, a former nomad, who left Tibet for political reasons, said: “I have neither money nor education, but I have two strong legs that I can use for my country. Because now I have the freedom in this country, I use my vacation time to fight for the people who deserve the same kind of freedom.”

The International Campaign for Tibet, which will join the send-off for the cyclists at the start of their route, has submitted a report on the Panchen Lama to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, requesting for a UN official to visit Gendun Choekyi Nyima at this significant ten-year anniversary.

The 11 cyclists begin the “Ride for the Panchen Lama” on April 20 at 10 am at the Chinese Embassy, 2201 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington DC. The route is as follows:

April 20, Westminster, MD; April 21, Bethesda, VA; April 22. Coatesville, PA; April 23, Bedminster, PA; April 24, Berkeley Heights, NJ; April 25, the UN Headquarters, NY.

For more information, contact Gendin Gyatso 310-382-6069 (cell)