The UN Continuing “Search” for Tibet’s Panchen Lama

“If I die, I think two to three years, I think the Chinese may choose even one Dalai Lama. But Tibetans (will) not accept that. The Panchen Lama which they choose, some Chinese officials also they describe as ‘Fake Panchen Lama’.”

~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, TIME Magazine, 7 March 2019

This report is an account of the largely unknown attempts made to ascertain the whereabouts, the well-being and the fate of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet at the United Nations.[1] It attempts to provide a comprehensive narrative on the efforts by the international community over the past more than two decades to determine the fate of the Panchen Lama by particularly highlighting how the mechanisms of the UN human rights system have played a crucial role to help the Tibetans, followers of Tibetan Buddhism, supporters of Tibet and others by initiating interventions on the case directly with the Chinese authorities.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was recognised on 14 May 1995 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during a ceremony in Dharamsala, India. His Holiness declared: “Today is the auspicious day when the Buddha first gave the Kalachakra teaching. The Kalachakra teachings have a special connection with the Panchen Lamas. On this occasion, which also happens to be the Vaisaki, it is with great joy that I am able to proclaim the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche. I have recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, born on April 25, 1989, whose father is Kunchok Phuntsog, and mother Dechen Chodon, of Lhari district in Nagchu, Tibet, as the true reincarnation of Panchen Lama.”

Days later (generally regarded as 17 May), China abducted Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family members and continue to subject them to incommunicado detention and enforced disappearance totally disregarding its obligations to international human rights norms and standards and its own laws and regulations.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet, simply disappeared never to be seen to this day by the outside world.[2]

“China must be persuaded to release the child without harm expeditiously for its own sake, for its credibility. When a Permanent Member of the Security Council engages in these kinds of extortion, kidnapping, coercion of the enormously important symbol of an entire people, for an entire belief, not only Tibetans but other Buddhists all over the world, I think it’s very serious,” Mr. Jose-Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate, East Timor had said.[3]

Read the full report here.