New Delhi, May 17 (UNI): Abducted by the Chinese government on this day 27 years ago at the tender age of six, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, is known as the “youngest political prisoner in the world”. Tibetans on Tuesday appealed to Beijing to free the Buddhist spiritual leader, even as they recited hymns to mark the day.
The Central and Regional Tibetan Women’s Association in Dharamshala held a one-day hunger strike to mark the 27-year disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama and called on the Chinese government to immediately release Nyima and his family, The 14th Dalai Lama who is living in exile in India recognised the six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama on May 14, 1995. The Chinese Government rejected the recognition.
Three days later, on May 17, 1995, the boy and his family members ‘disappeared’. There has been no news since of the whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama or his family. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama are considered the supreme figures of spiritual authority. The Panchen Lama is considered the second highest position after the Dalai Lama. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born on April 25, 1989 in Lhari County, Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile have denounced his abduction.
In November 1995, China “appointed” another child of the same age Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama. Most Tibetans do not recognise Norbu. In May 2007, following the demand raised from several quarters that China should allow an independent expert to visit and confirm Nyima’s well-being, Beijing said that he was leading a normal life, and that he did “not wish to be disturbed”.