(Montreal, Sunday, 25 April 2010) – Thousands of Canadians today prayed for the Panchen Lama at places of worship and vigils held across Canada honouring the missing 21 year-old on his birthday.
Chinese authorities abducted Gedun Choekyi Nyima and his family days after his 1995 nomination as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second most important figure in Tibetan religion, culture and politics after the Dalai Lama.
Gedun was six at the time of his arrest. His whereabouts and those of his family are unknown. No international body has been given permission to visit the family, despite repeated requests from foreign governments and senior UN officials, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Following his abduction, the Chinese government played what can only be called ‘reincarnation politics’ by selecting Gyaltsen Norbua as their own Panchen Lama in November 1995.
Panchen means "Great Scholar" and Lama is a word Tibetans use for religious teacher. Historically, the Panchen Lama has played a pivotal role in identifying the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and vice versa.
"The Panchen Lama’s childhood was stolen, but it's not too late to give him his freedom" said Travis. "But the Chinese government can no longer hide behind their claim that his parents are responsible for his continued detention since he’s now twenty-one.”
The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.
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