On April 25, 1989, a baby named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born in Tibet.
At the age of six, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, a spiritual leader among Tibetan Buddhists.
Within three days of the Dalai Lama’s announcement that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Chinese occupation forces kidnapped the six-year old and his family.
To this day, their whereabouts remain a mystery.
Now, as the Panchen Lama celebrates his 26th birthday somewhere in China, a number of human rights organizations, including the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, have called for the Panchen Lama’s release.
Because of the importance of the Panchen Lama to Tibetan Buddhists, many believe it is critical that he be allowed to return to Tibet.
China’s leaders have refused to listen to the pleas of the international community and continue to detain him and his family in an undisclosed, secret location.
It is hard to keep secrets in the age of the Internet, however. If you are reading this article in China and know the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama, make your voice heard. Alert one of the many Tibetan liberation organizations that are calling for his release.
Under Chinese occupation and oppression, Tibetan Buddhists have endured political repression, cultural assimilation, environmental destruction and economic marginalization.
In occupied Tibet, a spiritually agnostic Chinese government is aggressively attempting to legitimize its control. Tibetans are unable to openly practice their religion. Even the simple act of displaying a picture of the Dalai Lama leads to imprisonment and torture.
The situation has gotten so bad that, since 2009, 138 Tibetans have burned themselves to death, hoping that people in other parts of the world will become aware of their plight and rise up to help Tibetans in their struggle for religious freedom.
Tibetans have suffered enough. The Chinese occupation of Tibet is a tragic situation that must stop.
May 17th is International Solidarity Day with Tibet. Tibetan liberation organizations across the globe are asking the world to observe the occasion by calling for the release of the Panchen Lama.
For information about what you can do, click here.
Author: Kevin Pflug
Apprentice Editor: Kristen Koennemann/Editor: Travis May