Today, Kai Mueller delivered a statement at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR), in which he urged the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance and other relevant special procedures to express concern and request information about disappeared Tibetans, in particular the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.
He said, “For many Tibetans, Choekyi Nyima’s disappearance has come to symbolise the Chinese government’s efforts to interfere with and undermine Tibetan Buddhist culture. His enforced disappearance also constitutes a grave violation of international human rights standards.”
UPDATE: On Sept. 11, China reacted to Kai Mueller’s statement, on behalf of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama. Following is their statement as transcribed from the video recording, visible at timestamp 1:50:48.
“On the issue of Tibet, certain NGOs mentioned the issue of the fake Panchen. The Dalai Lama authorized the declaration of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the Panchen Lama in total disregard to religious rituals and historical conventions. It is illegal and ineffective. Choekyi Nyima is not the Panchen reincarnation, but an ordinary person. He is currently living in a normal life and has nothing to do with the so-called enforced disappearance. The reincarnation of living Buddhas, including the Dalai Lama, must follow religious ritual and historical conventions and comply with Chinese law and regulations.”
Following is the full text of Kai Mueller’s statement.
Human Rights Council
Forty-Second Regular Session
September 11 September, 2019
Item 3: Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance
Statement delivered by Kai Mueller on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR)
We wish to thank the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance for consistently taking action on behalf of disappeared Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The Working Group’s critical investigations ensure that Tibetans who have disappeared are not forgotten but remain on the agenda of the international community.
In the People’s Republic of China, Tibetans are regularly subjected to enforced disappearance. Just recently, news of the disappearance and imprisonment of three monks, Lobsang Thapke, Lobsang Dorjee and Thubpa emerged from the Ngaba area, which has been subject to a crackdown by the Chinese government since the wave of self-immolations began there in 2009. The latter two monks are former political prisoners. No information about their whereabouts is available.
I would like to remind the Council of the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, 24 years ago, when he was just six years old. Choekyi Nyima, the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama recognised by the Dalai Lama, was taken into custody on 17 May 1995 and has not been seen since. We are deeply grateful to the UN Human Rights Mechanisms including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Special Rapporteurs, as well as a number of governments who have consistently asked China for information about the whereabouts of Choekyi Nyima. They have also asked to visit him. Unfortunately China has not allowed anyone to meet the Panchen Lama, fuelling fears and speculation as to whether he is still alive.
For many Tibetans, Choekyi Nyima’s disappearance has come to symbolise the Chinese government’s efforts to interfere with and undermine Tibetan Buddhist culture. His enforced disappearance also constitutes a grave violation of international human rights standards.
We urge the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance and other relevant special procedures to continue to express concern and request for information about the disappeared Tibetans, in particular the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.
Thank you, Mr. President.