Launched in Commemoration
Montreal: Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet and the world's youngest political prisoner, will celebrate his tenth birthday on Sunday, April 25th. He will not spend the day playing with friends, but instead alone in an unknown Chinese detention centre.
Gendhun Choekyi Nyima was taken forcibly from his home on May 17, 1995, when he was only six years old. He and his family have been held by Chinese authorities ever since. Their whereabouts remain unknown and there is no proof that the boy or his parents are still alive. The ensuing controversy has resulted in over 80 arrests inside occupied-Tibet.
Last week in Toronto, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji claimed that China is a country "ruled on the basis of law". "What kind of law imprisons a child for political reasons?" asked Thubten Samdup, President of the Canada Tibet Committee. "Even if there was a legitimate reason to detain him, then why hasn't he been charged, or given an attorney? Why haven't any international observers been given an opportunity to see him? This is not rule on the basis of law."
Tibetans around the world and across Canada will commemorate the birthday by holding vigils, rallies and cultural events. On the Panchen Lama's birthday, the Canada Tibet Committee will launch a new website, designed specifically for children. The site includes background information, games, puzzles, artwork and more. The website is located at www.tibet.ca/panchenlama.
Canadians have also joined an international postcard campaign directed at President Jiang Zemin and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson The birthday campaigns are designed to build pressure on the Government of China to allow independent observers access to the Panchen Lama.
"Until that happens" said Samdup "the Government of Canada should precondition any human rights discussions with China on release of the Panchen Lama.
For more information: 514-870-6770
The Canada Tibet Committee is a national non-profit organization working to increase public awareness of the current situation in Tibet.