In 1995, the Dalai Lama recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year-old living inside Tibet, as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist leaders. Three days later, the Chinese government kidnapped the child and his family; none of them have been seen in public since. In Nyima’s place, China appointed its own, fake Panchen Lama, who now serves as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.

Fears are high that China will follow a similar pattern when the Dalai Lama eventually dies. So it was significant that five UN human rights experts and expert bodies wrote to the Chinese government to “express grave concern at the continued refusal by the Government of China to disclose precisely the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.” The experts appealed to China “to ensure that Tibetan Buddhists are able to freely practice their religion,” noting that Tibetans’ religious freedom included the right “to determine their clergy and religious leaders in accordance with their own religious traditions and practices.”

ICT’s leadership, including ICT’s Chairman Richard Gere, had met with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2017 and raised a number of human rights violations with his office and those of key UN Special Rapporteurs. Kai Mueller, head of ICT’s UN Advocacy Team, has for years coordinated ICT’s work at the UN with such concrete results as the above mentioned.