panchen lama

TIN News Review No. 25: Reports from Tibet 1996
In December 1995 the Chinese authorities finally succeeded in placing a child of their choice on the throne of the Panchen Lama in Shigatse. The first half of 1996 saw a series of protests against that event, including a bomb in a village in Nagchu in northern Tibet, and another outside the home of the principal Tibetan supporter of the Chinese decision.

In May the Chinese government admitted that the missing child recognised as the new Panchen Lama a year earlier by the exiled Dalai Lama was being held in protective custody. It became clear in the same week that the official child recognised by the Chinese as the Panchen Lama would be allowed to spend only a few days in Tibet and would be brought up in Beijing.

1996 saw continuing political activity in the Shigatse area and in a major monastery in Amdo in Eastern Tibet associated with the Panchen Lama. Five Tibetans in Gyantse and at least one in Namling - both in the Shigatse area - were imprisoned for distributing prayers or leaflets about the Panchen Lama dispute, and nine monks from Tashilhunpo, the Panchen Lama's monastery in Shigatse, were given prison sentences of up to 30 months for protesting against the Chinese decision. At least seven other monks were expelled from Tashilhunpo, and others left voluntarily. In May the Chinese announced that five laypeople in Shigatse had been given prison sentences for unknown political offences, but did not say if these were related to the Panchen Lama dispute. At Kumbum in Amdo, near the birthplace of the previous Panchen, a monastic school was closed down and 25 monks detained after posters appeared criticising Chinese interference in the succession.

There was no news of the people who had allegedly sent messages to the Dalai Lama describing their search for the new Panchen Lama - Chadrel Rinpoche, the former abbot of Tashilhunpo, Champa Chung-la, his monk assistant, and Samdrup, a Shigatse businessman, have disappeared since their arrests in 1995.

The historic role of the previous Panchen Lama, who died in 1989, became clearer in October when a copy was obtained for the first time outside China of a secret report he had written in 1962 criticising early Chinese policies in Tibet, which he wrote had led to thousands of imprisonments and deaths.

China Admits Holding Panchen Lama Child 'for Protection'
China has admitted for the first time that it is holding the missing Tibetan child, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, regarded by most Tibetans as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. The UN has asked that a delegation be allowed to visit the seven-year old boy, whom Beijing says is being held to prevent him from being kidnapped by Tibetan nationalists.

The announcement coincided with TV footage of another chi!d, the Beijing-approved Panchen Lama, accepting gifts from Party leaders in Shigatse, Tibet's second city. It follows unusually strong press statements calling on cadres to diminish Tibetan religious belief because it is full of "deceitfulness, backwardness and poisoning".

"He has been put under the protection of the government at the request of his parents," China's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Wu Jianmin, told UN experts who asked China on Tuesday 28 May to allow a UN representative to visit Gendun Choekyi Nyima. Ambassador Wu did not say where the child is being held.

"The Chinese ambassador said the boy, who has not been seen in public for more than a year, was in good condition and was living with his parents," the official Chinese news agency reported in its account of the meeting in Geneva. "The boy was at risk of being kidnapped by Tibetan separatists and his security had been threatened," it said.

The admission comes just over one year after the child and his family disappeared, and follows 12 months of denials by Beijing. Chinese officials "have no idea of the whereabouts of the soul boy designated by the Dalai Lama," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman told journalists last November.

The disappearance of the child and his family has led to widespread international activity, including requests from the UN and a resolution last December at the European Parliament which halted implementation of a European development project in Tibet.

Gendun Choekyi Nyima is believed to have been escorted to Beijing by Chinese security forces from his home in northern Tibet within days of the Dalai Lama's announcement on 14 May last year that he had recognised the child as the 11th Panchen Lama, one of Tibet's most senior religious leaders. The announcement led to a six month dispute with Beijing, who in December installed a different child as the official Panchen Lama.

home .  understanding tibetan buddhism .  ascending the roof of the world .  interviews .  china in tibet .  chronology .  links .  viewer discussion .  press reaction .  tapes & transcripts

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation
PBS Online