Geneva: Five UN independent mandate holders have demanded China to provide “prompt and detailed information” on the whereabouts of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and have endorsed the “CRC’s (Committee on the Rights of the Child) recommendation to allow an independent monitor to visit him to confirm his whereabouts and the extent to which he is able to enjoy and exercise his rights” in their latest communication to China made public recently.
In their communication dated 2 June 2020, the experts have highlighted two important points: one, the continued enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and the other, “regulation of reincarnation of Tibetan living Buddhas against the religious traditions and practices of the Tibetan Buddhist minority.” Expressing grave concerns on both these issues, the UN experts noted that these acts of the government of China violate “international human rights law provisions, such as the prohibition against discrimination, the right to recognition as a person before the law and to its equal protection without discrimination, the right not be deprived arbitrarily of one’s liberty, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to freely participate in cultural life.”
The UN experts have noted that the issue of enforced disappearance has been raised with the Chinese government by multiple UN special procedures as well as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The experts stated that “the continued enforced disappearance of Mr. Gedhun Cheokyi Nyima for the past 25 years contravenes several articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances including articles 2 and 7.”
Raising particular concern about the regulation of reincarnation of Tibetan living Buddhas, the UN experts have noted that this “interfere[s][sic] and possibly undermines, in a discriminatory way, the religious traditions and practices of the Tibetan Buddhist minority.” Quoting the concerns of the Tibetan Buddhists, the UN experts have noted that “furthermore, there is fear that the Chinese authority will identify and appoint the successor of the current (fourteenth) Dalai Lama against the Tibetan traditions and the wish of Tibetan Buddhist communities.”
The statement was issued by five UN mandates: the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; the Special Rapporteur on minority issues; and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
2020 marks 25 years of the enforced disappearance of Tibet’s Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. He was merely six years old when he and his entire family were abducted by the Chinese authorities on 17 May 1995. In May this year, 159 organizations had submitted a joint petition to the UN to press China to release Tibet’s Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. As part of the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) global campaign for the release of Panchen Lama, several prominent world leaders and parliamentarians from across the globe and civil societies joined the call for the release of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.
Ms. Thinlay Chukki, CTA’s Special Appointee for Human Rights based in the Tibet Bureau-Geneva had also raised the issue of the Panchen Lama in the recently concluded 44th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Delivering the oral statement at the UN, Ms. Thinlay noted that “for 25 years Tibet’s religious leader 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has been denied of religious education and is kept under enforced disappearance by China for 25 years now” and urged the UNHRC to press China to free Panchen Lama.
Read the statement of the UN Experts on Panchen Lama here.