Dharamshala (HP): The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) on Monday asked the Chinese government to allow the 11th Panchen Lama and his family members, taken into custody by China 27 years ago and not seen in public since then, to live a free life.

The CTA’s appeal comes on the 33rd birth anniversary of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was recognised by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama when he was six-year-old.

In a statement issued from here, the CTA said it intends to send a strong message to Beijing that the world has not forgotten about Nyima despite China’s efforts to erase him from history.

We call upon the Chinese government to rightfully allow the Panchen Lama and his family to live a free life they are entitled to under the international laws and treaties that China is obligated to, the CTA, which is unofficially known as Tibetan government-in-exile, said in a statement issued from its headquarters here.

On 14 May 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama endorsed Nyima as the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama.

However, China did not recognise his reincarnation and on 11 November 1995, it announced Gyaltsen Norbu, the son of a Communist Party member as the Panchen Lama, the second-highest spiritual title in Tibetan Buddhism, the CTA said in the statement.

Following this, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances expressed concerns about the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama and urged China to provide information on the case, it said.

Since then, a number of human rights bodies, including the UN Committee against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as Special Reporter on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have urged the Chinese government to make Panchen Lama’s whereabouts known to the world, the statement said.

However, China has claimed that the Panchen Lama is an ordinary citizen, living a perfectly normal life and does not wish to be disturbed , according to the CTA statement.

Therefore, the Panchen Lama’s case continues to remain one of the longest cases of enforced disappearance in the world, it added.

The Tibetan government-in-exile appeals to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to press China to release information about the current status and whereabouts of the Panchen Lama and his family, the statement said.

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