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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.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

World's Youngest Political Prisoner: Ninth Anniversary


Disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama

11th Pancen Lama of TibetMay 17th went pretty much unremarked in the world's Human-Rights and diplomatic circles but it marked the day in 1995 when Chinese officials went to the home of Gehun Choekyi Nyima, then six years old, and spirited him and his family away never to be seen again.

Gehun Choekyi Nyima at just six years of age was the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet having been confirmed the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama just two weeks prior by the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibets Buddhists. He was to become, on that fateful day, the highest ranking and youngest religious political prisoner in the world.

Since that date nothing has been seen or heard of the boy or his family other than the Chinese Government admitting in 1996 that they had him under their "protection".

"he has been put under the protection of the government at the request of his parents" one official commented at the time saying that "the boy was at risk of being kidnapped by 'separatists'"

Two weeks after his disappearance in May 1995 the Chinese Government announced that a new Panchen Lama had been identified by Tibetans independent of the Dalai Lama. This "new" Panchen Lama was selected by Beijing and he too was moved to the Chinese capital.

Rumours of Gehun Choekyi Nyima death are several but one in particular, dating back to 1999, is believed by many to be true. It was said that a "small emaciated body" described as a "major criminal" was taken from a prison in Gansu for secret cremation. "Eye witness reports" claim the body was that of a boy resembling the Panchen Lama.

Despite numerous calls from the international community in the early days (dying in number now) the whereabouts or health of the now 14 year old is unknown and he remains the most high profile and youngest political and religious prisoner in the world.

When you think how we can carry on and have normal trade and diplomatic relations, with a clear conscience, with a state, any state, that is capable of making a six year old child and his family political prisoners is beyond comprehension.

How our diplomats and leaders and "Captains of Industry" can shake the hands of child kidnappers and sleep at night is truly beyond me. How we can so quickly forget is unpardonable.

For further reading may I suggest the linked website that is a "Links Page" to further information on the boy Lama.

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