Free the Panchen Lama!

boxpic Free the Panchen Lama!Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama, was taken by the Chinese authorities when he was just 6 years old; the world’s youngest political prisoner.

He is still missing today, and on his 24th birthday on 25th April, we remembered this chilling case by again calling for his release. Having committed no crime, this innocent man has missed out on a childhood, teenage years and now adult life. His case is sadly just one in the catalogue of human rights abuses which China inflicts on the Tibetan people to this day.

Supporting the Panchen Lama in the UK, 2012 videosize>


Gedhun’s story
In May 1995, Chinese officials burst into the home of the six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, seizing this innocent child and his family. None of them have been seen or heard from since. Gedhun was recognised by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Lobsang Trinley Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen, the 10th Panchen Lama; a controversial figure who spent eight years in a Chinese jail and died in mysterious circumstances in 1989.

Various pressure groups, governments and other bodies have pressed China for evidence relating to the whereabouts and condition of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, who urged China to ‘allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima whilst respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents’ and calls by UN High Commissioner for Human Right Louise Arbour for China to provide evidence of it’s various contradictory claims that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is ‘living a healthy life and does not wish to be disturbed’. Last year, the British Foreign Office cited Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s case in it’s annual human rights report on China and Tibet, calling for him to be released.

balloons Free the Panchen Lama!
Releasing 24 ‘missing’ balloons at the Chinese Embassy, London this Aprilsize>

Why abduct this boy?
The Panchen Lama is an important figure in Tibetan Buddhism; one of the mainstays of Tibetan culture and national identity. China is fearful of Tibetan Buddhism and its influence; a peaceful, open minded and free thinking philosophy which is alien to its own oppressive mindset. China is keen to ‘sinofy’ Tibet, and attempts to do so by flooding Tibet with Chinese immigrants, preventing Tibetans from learning in their own language, paying Tibetans less than Chinese for the same jobs, forcing monks and nuns to denounce the Dalai Lama or leave their monasteries, arresting those who express their Tibetan identity in music, art and poetry and passing down harsh sentences for protesting or simply sharing information about protests, for which both life and death sentences have been handed out in the past year. But as the significant increase in protests, civil disobedience and over 100 tragic self-immolations in Tibet over the past few years has shown, over 60 years of such policies have failed to suppress Tibetan identity or Tibetan resistance.

Meanwhile, China continues to push its own state appointed ‘Panchen Lama’, Gyaltsen Norbu, into high state offices, hoping that Tibetans will take him as a replacement for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima so that when the Dalai Lama dies, Gyaltsen Norbu will choose his replacement, but Tibetans reject him also, labeling him the ‘Panchen Zuma’ or ‘false Panchen’ and continuing to call for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s release.

In one such case in 2012, 17-year-old Jigme Dolma staged a lone protest calling for the release of Gedhun and others and Tibetan independence and was arrested, tortured and sentenced to 3 years in jail, for which she has been relocated to China. China’s attempts to make the Tibetan people forget about Gedhun Choekyi Nyima have failed, and this one haunting photograph of a six-year-old boy continues to be a thorn in the side of the Chinese state; his status as one of the hundreds if not thousands missing under the current regime a stark reminder of the harsh reality behind China’s global propaganda drive to paint itself as a progressive nation ready to lead the world.

2011 letter to the Panchen Lamasize>


Call on the UN to demand his release
The United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances can put pressure on China over the Panchen Lama’s case. Write an email to the UNCED

Write to your MP
Anyone can write to their MP simply by going to and tapping in your post code; your MP’s name will come up- send them an email reminding them of the Panchen Lama’s case and asking them to write to the Foreign Office asking them to support multi-lateral action for Tibet at this crucial time.

Send a letter to Chinese state representatives
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s case is a thorn in the side of the Chinese state; no rational state can justify abducting a child. Write to the Chinese Embassy or the Tibetan Governor to demand they provide evidence of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s whereabouts and well being.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming
The Chinese Embassy
49-51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL

Governor Losang Gyaltsen
No. 1 Kang’angdonglu
Lhasa, Tibet 850000
People’s Republic of China

Help fund SFT UK’s work
SFT UK’s work to highlight cases like this and push for Tibetan independence is reliant on donations from supporters. Join the resistance by joining the rangzen circle or becoming a guardian for the Panchen Lama with a regular gift.

Read more about what SFT UK is doing
Our spring 2013 online magazine is available below, looking at the latest developments in Tibet and what’s happening here in the UK, with a feature on China’s new leader Xi Jinping. No download needed- read online and share the link on your social networks!

SFT UK is run mainly by volunteers who use our own resources. You can help us grow by joining the rangzen circle to help us campaign not just now but all year, every year until Tibet is free.

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