Gedhun Choekyi Nyima
|Gedhun Choekyi Nyima|
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima
The 11th Panchen Lama in 1995
|Born||25 April 1989|
17 May 1995 (aged 6)|
Lhari County, Tibet Autonomous Region
|Status||Missing for 23 years and 3 months|
11th Panchen Lama|
according to the 14th Dalai Lama
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism as announced by the Dalai Lama, but rejected by the search team led by Lobzang Gyeltsen Sengge Lama (生钦·洛桑坚赞) . He was born in Lhari County, Tibet Autonomous Region. On 14 May 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was named the 11th Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama. After his selection, he was taken into protective custody by China and has not been seen in public since 17 May 1995.  Lead of the search team Lobzang Gyeltsen Sengge Lama (生钦·洛桑坚赞) pointed out that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born before the death of the 10th Panchen Lama. Another child, Gyancain Norbu, was later named as Panchen Lama by following the tradition of using Golden Urn, British Broadcasting Corporation reported that it was a choice rejected by most Tibetans. Alexander Norman wrote, "Today, the Panchen Lamas are famous for having two claimants to the see of Tashilhunpo: one recognised by the present Dalai Lama and taken into house arrest by the Chinese, the other recognised by China but by no one else." In 2007, State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 was issued on reincarnations in China.
Selection of the 11th Panchen Lama
|Gedhun Choekyi Nyima|
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Four days before his death, the 10th Panchen Lama made his own will publicly to follow the tradition. On January 24, following the opening ceremony of the Ling Pagoda, with religious figures in Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and autonomous regions, the 10th Penchen Lama held a special talk on the reincarnation of the Living Buddha, proposed that "the three candidate boys should be identified first and then investigated one by one" and "I would like to take the lead by drawing lots of Golden Urn before the image of Sakyamuni." 
Three days after the death of the 10th Panchen Lama, based on the feedback gathered from the committee of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, monks, and the tradition, decision was made on how the 11th Panchen Lama would be selected, and published by the Premier of the State Council on January 30th 1989. 
Following the death of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1989, the search for an individual to be recognised as his reincarnation by Tibetan Buddhists quickly became mired in mystery and controversy, as Tibet had been under the occupation and control of the non-religious People's Republic of China since 1959.
Armed with Beijing's approval, the head of the Panchen Lama search committee, Chadrel Rinpoche, maintained private communication with the Dalai Lama in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable candidate for both the Dalai Lama and Beijing authorities concerning the Panchen Lama's reincarnation. After the Dalai Lama named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama on 14 May 1995, Chinese authorities had Chadrel Rinpoche arrested and charged with treason. According to the Tibetan Government in Exile, he was replaced by Sengchen Lobsang Gyaltsen, so chosen because he was more likely to agree with the party line. Sengchen had been a political opponent of both the Dalai Lama and the 10th Panchen Lama. Because of the history of rivalry between different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, many Tibetans and scholars believe that this was a tactical move by the CCP to create more unrest and disunity between the typically unified Tibetan peoples.
The new search committee ignored the Dalai Lama's 14 May announcement and instead chose from a list of finalists which excluded Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. In selecting a name, lottery numbers were drawn from a Golden Urn, a procedure used in Tibet by the Chinese (Manchu) emperor in 1793. The Tibetan method involves using possessions of the former Lama to identify his reincarnation, as the new child incarnate will reportedly recognize his past items amid miscellaneous ones. Chinese authorities announced Gyancain Norbu as the search committee's choice on 11 November 1995.
Since his selection, the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima have been unknown. Officials state that his whereabouts are kept undisclosed to protect him. Human rights organizations termed him the "youngest political prisoner in the world". No foreign party has been allowed to visit him. Those who say Nyima is the 11th Panchen Lama call upon the Chinese authorities to prove that he is safe.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child requested to be told of Nyima's whereabouts on 28 May 1996. Xinhua declined, responding that Nyima was at risk of being "kidnapped by separatists" and that "his security had been threatened". The Committee requested a visit with Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, supported by a campaign of more than 400 celebrities and associations petitioning for the visit, including six Nobel Prize winners. According to statements by the Chinese government from 1998, he was then leading a normal life.
In May 2007, Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the UN Human Rights Council, asked the Chinese authorities what measures they had taken to implement the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, that the government should allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents. In a response dated 17 July 2007, the Chinese authorities said: "Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a perfectly ordinary Tibetan boy, in an excellent state of health, leading a normal, happy life and receiving a good education and cultural upbringing. He is currently in upper secondary school, he measures 165 cm in height and is easy-going by nature. He studies hard and his school results are very good. He likes Chinese traditional culture and has recently taken up calligraphy. His parents are both State employees, and his brothers and sisters are either already working or at university. The allegation that he disappeared together with his parents and that his whereabouts remain unknown is simply not true." This response did not answer the question about a visit or confirmation.
In 2013, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima would have been turning 24. The protective custody should have ended when he turned 18 per Chinese law.
In 2015, on the twentieth anniversary of Gendun Choekyi Nyima's disappearance, Chinese officials announced "The reincarnated child Panchen Lama you mentioned is being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed."
In April 2018, the Dalai Lama declared that he knew from a "reliable source" that the Panchen Lama he had recognized, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was alive and receiving normal education. He said he hoped that the official Panchen Lama (Gyaincain Norbu) studied well under the guidance of a good teacher, adding that there were instances in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, of a reincarnated lama taking more than one manifestation.
However, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has never reappeared since his disappearance in 1995.
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- 11th Panchen Lama alive, receiving education: Dalai Lama, The Statesman, April 25, 2018: "Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Wednesday said 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima “according to reliable source is alive and receiving normal education”. Talking to the media at Gaggal Airport in Kangra district after returning from four-day Delhi visit, Lama hoped that the official Panchen Lama studies well under the guidance of a good teacher. “Then the Panchen Lama, which I recognised sometime back, there was no news, but then according to reliable information, he is still alive and receiving normal education. So we will see,” he said. He said there are instances in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, “where a reincarnated lama took more than one manifestation”."
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- Dalai Lama cites ‘reliable source’ as saying Panchen Lama alive, speaks well for the Chinese appointed counter, Tibetan Review, April 27, 2018 : "Following the passing away of the 10th Panchen Lama Choekyi Gyaltsen in Jan 1989, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader formally proclaimed six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima born in Tibet as his undisputed reincarnation on May 14, 1995. Three days later, the Chinese government took him and his family away to be never seen or heard from again."
Gedhun Choekyi NyimaBorn: 1989 April 25
| Reincarnation of the Panchen Lama
(Government of Tibet in Exile interpretation)