Geneva: Tibetans and Tibet supporters from across the world marked the 28th anniversary of the disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, on 17 May 2023. Similarly, Swiss-based Tibet groups, including the Swiss Parliamentary Group for Tibet, collectively renewed its call for the release of XIth Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has been forcibly disappeared by China, since 17 May 1995.
As part of the campaign for the release of 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, abbot of Tashi Lhunpo-the seat monastery of Panchen Lama, Venerable Zeekyab Rinpoche visited Geneva from 14 May to 17 May 2023, following his visit to Italy, Canada, United States and the United Kingdom. While in Geneva, Zeekyab Rinpoche testified the case of the Panchen Lama to the Geneva-based representatives of Missions of like-minded states, including meetings with Deputy Permanent Representative Kelly Billingsley of the U.S mission in Geneva to the International Organizations and UN, and Ambassador of Taiwan delegation in Geneva Hon’ble Nicole Sue.
Welcoming the visit of Ven. Zeekyab Rinpoche in Switzerland, the Swiss-Parliamentary Group for Tibet sent a petition to the Geneva-based UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), urging the UN to call upon China to end the destruction of Tibetan culture, including the continued abduction of Panchen Lama of Tibet. The Parliamentary group raised serious concerns about China’s systematic attempts to eradicate Tibetan culture and identity in the petition addressed to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk. “China’s continued abduction of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet is not just an individual case, but rather a systematic attack and planned towards the erosion of Tibetan culture”, said National Councillor Nicolas Walder, co-president of the Parliamentary Group for Tibet.
Furthermore, the Tibetan Community of Geneva organised a peaceful demonstration in front of the United Nations on 17 May 2023, marking the 28th year of the enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama. Standing in support and solidarity, Swiss Member of Parliament Hon’ble Isabelle Pasquier-Eichenberger addressed the gathering on behalf of the Parliamentary Group for Tibet. She reiterated the parliamentary group for Tibet’s calls for the UN to end the destruction of Tibetan culture and China’s master plan to gain control over the centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist practice of reincarnation, as noted in the petition sent to the UN by the parliamentary group. The event was also addressed by Venerable Zeekyab Rinpoche along with Representative Thinlay Chukki of the Tibet Bureau-Geneva; President of the Tibetan Community of Switzerland & Liechtenstein Karma Choekyi; co-president of the French-speaking part of the Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association René Longet; President of Tibetan Women Association (Central) Tenzing Dolma from Dharamshala and Representative of Europe Tibetan Youth Association Tsering Kelsang Gonpa. Members of the community along with the speakers gathered in front of the UN in protest against China for the continued abduction of Panchen Lama of Tibet Gedhun Choekyi Nyima along with his entire family. Marking the day, Venerable Zeekyab Rinpoche on behalf of Tashi Lhunpo monastery inside and outside Tibet submitted an appeal letter to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for the release of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet.
On the eve of 28 anniversary of the enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, on 16 May 2023, the Tibetan Community of Geneva held a press conference titled “China: Where is Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama?” at Geneva Press Club. The speakers of the conference included the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo monastery Ven. Zeekyab Rinpoche; Representative Thinlay Chukki of the Tibet Bureau and President of Geneva for Human Rights Adrien Zoller. The press event was moderated by the President of the Geneva Tibetan Community Yonga Tsesutsang. The speakers unanimously expressed urgency in ending the continued enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama. The case reflects a wide range of gross violations of human rights by China in Tibet, and reminds the concerted efforts by the international community to press China for the release of the Panchen Lama is more crucial than ever before, highlighting the speakers.
Paralleling the demonstration in front of the UN, Swiss-Tibetan Women Association organized an info-table on the premises of the 2023 Geneva Summit to create awareness of China’s continued abduction of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet and called for support in his release. Members of the association distributed hand-out and flyers to speakers and audiences of the summit on 17th May.
Click here to read the petition of the Swiss Parliamentary Group for Tibet submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.