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Twenty-two years is enough! Canada must seek release of Tibet’s Panchen Lama

May 17, 2017

Montreal (May 17, 2017) – On the 22nd commemoration of the disappearance of Tibet’s Panchen Lama, the Canada Tibet Committee has written to the Government of Canada urging that it renew efforts to obtain information from China about his whereabouts and well-being.

Second to the His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, the six year old Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, was abducted by Chinese authorities on May 17, 1995, making him the world's youngest political prisoner at the time.  Neither the Panchen Lama nor his family have been seen or heard from since. [1]

In October 2016, the Government of Canada responded to a parliamentary e-petition, affirming that “Canada has regularly requested that China provide information on the location of Gendhun Choekyi Nyima and his parents…. the Chinese government has not responded.”[2]

In its letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, the Canada Tibet Committee urges Canada to renew pressure on China to allow a delegation of Canadian Parliamentarians and/or diplomats to visit Gendhun Choekyi Nyima at the earliest opportunity to ascertain his whereabouts and wellbeing.  The letter also urges Canada to demand the Panchen Lama’s early release without conditions.

Human rights bodies including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have sought assurances from China that the Panchen Lama is alive and well. The Government of China has admitted holding the Panchen Lama but has refused to divulge specific information about his whereabouts. [3]  

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[1] For more information about the Panchen Lama case, see: http://ppdcecc.gov/QueryResultsDetail.aspx?PrisonerNum=835; or watch the video “The Stolen Child” at https://www.savetibet.org/tibets-stolen-child/

[2] The e-petition and government response can be found at: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-431

[3] China says Panchen Lama living a ‘normal life’, The Guardian, September 6, 2015 - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/06/china-says-panchen-lama-living-a-normal-life-20-years-after-disappearance

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