Pompeo demands China disclose whereabouts of Tibet's Panchen Lama

Clay Curtis
May 21, 2020

China's foreign ministry says the man who has been missing since he was named the Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama 25 years ago now has a job and is living a normal life in China.

However, Nyima disappeared days after, becoming the world's youngest political prisoner.

China's statement came in apparent response to a call on May 18 by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo for Beijing to make public "the Panchen Lama's whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and global commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons".

China accused the 14th Dalai Lama on Tuesday of violating historical conventions and religious rituals by designating a Panchen Lama at will.

"Tibetan Buddhists, like members of all faith communities, must be able to select, educate, and venerate their religious leaders according to their traditions and without government interference".

The Tibetan government in exile has demanded to know the whereabouts from the Chinese government of a boy who has not been seen since for the past 25 years.

Meanwhile, congressmen Jim McGovern and Marco Rubio released similar statements on Sunday (May 17) demanding the release of the Panchen Lama.

Dalai Lama The Stream
The Dalai Lama has said China had been trying to interfere in his succession and split Tibetan Buddhism

"China's abduction of the Panchen Lama and forcible denial of his religious identity and right to practice in his monastery is not only a violation of religious freedom but also a gross violation of human rights", the Tibetan parliament in northern India, known as the Kashag, said in a statement. The Tibetan spiritual leader has said China had been trying to interfere in his succession and split Tibetan Buddhism. In February, he marked the 80th anniversary of his enthronement.

China, which claims that Tibet is part of its territory, named another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, to the position.

The person appointed as the Panchen Lama is supposed to be a reincarnation of his predecessor.

A portrait of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, is shown as exiled Tibetans marked his birthday in Dharmasala, India, on April 25 previous year.

He said the issue will continue to be brought up, especially since the Chinese Communist Party continues to assert its right to appoint the next Dalai Lama.

Sam Brownback, the United States ambassador-at-large for worldwide religious freedom, last week warned that Beijing should not see the Panchen Lama episode as a model for the Dalai Lama's reincarnation.

"No matter what the Dalai Lama says or does, the central government's recognized rights toward reincarnation can not be denied", said Norbu Dunzhub of the Tibet Autonomous Region's United Front Work Department in 2015 without a hint of irony.

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