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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

China Claims Panchen Lama Alive and Well

11th Panchen Lama of TibetThe UK Statesman carries a story originally from the Times of London citing the Chinese State Council as saying that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Dalai Lama chosen 11th Panchen Lama is alive and well despite speculation that the 16 year old kidnapped by Chinese officials in 1995 was dead.

The Panchen Lama is the second most important position in the Tibetan religious hierarchy second only to the Dalai Lama.

Shortly after Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was named by the Dalai Lama in 1995 as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama Chinese officials raided his home in Tibet kidnapping him and his family. Two weeks after his disappearance the government announced their own Panchen Lama supposedly "correctly" chosen according to Tibetan Buddhist law.

Chinese officials denied any role in his disappearance at first but in 1996 admitted that they had the Panchen Lama in their "care" protecting him and his family against "separatists" kidnappers. Since then nothing official has been heard of the boy though rumours as to his death have cropped up from time to time.

According to the Times report the State Council statement confirms that the boy is alive and well

"His health condition is good and he is living a normal and happy life and receiving a good education,"

The Chinese chosen "Panchen Lama" Gyaincain Norbu recently appeared in Shanxi province where he was reported as praising the Chinese state for its religious tolerance and urged Tibetans to support the "motherland".

Despite the State Council's statement that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is "free" it is highly unlikely he will ever live anything but a life of virtual imprisonment as long as the Communist regime rules in China.

As a "living god" he poses just too much of a threat to Chinese rule over Tibet.

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The Statesman