In 1995, a six year old Tibetan boy and his family were taken into custody by communist Chinese authorities.
The boy’s name was Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. He had just been named by the Dali Lama to be the true reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual figure in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The boy – now a young man if he’s alive – has not been seen since, which makes a recent announcement by communist authorities saying that he is well somewhat hard to take at face value, especially given the communist’s record when it comes to Tibet.
Nyima “is receiving education, living normally and growing healthily. He does not want to be disturbed by anyone,” said state run media Xinhua on Sunday quoting Norbu Dondup an official at Tibet’s United Front Work Department reported AFP.
The Dalai Lama’s declaration of Nyima as the Panchen Lama was “illegal and invalid”, the official said reinforcing the Chinese Communist Party’s stance that they dictate who sits in positions of importance in Tibetan Buddhism.
In response Tibet’s government-in-exile reprimanded Beijing for detaining Nyima.
“As long as people are not given free access to meet him, we will consider him as missing and held against his will,” Dicki Chhoyang, minister for information and international relations, told AFP.
The officially atheist Communist Party have already appointed their own 11th Panchen Lama – Gyaincain Norbu – who isn’t recognized by many Tibetans. Norbu is also the vice president of the state sanctioned Buddhist Association of China which, according to AboutRelgion.com was made: “to place all Buddhists under the leadership of the Communist Party so that Buddhism will support the Party’s agenda.”
In a white paper issued on the weekend, the Party also reiterated its right to control the process of reincarnation.
Understandably there’s little reason why Tibetans would support Beijing’s choice, let alone the fact that traditionally it’s the Dalai Lama who makes the selection.
The 80-year-old Dalai Lama has lived in exile since 1959 but remains highly respected in his homeland. He is also a highly popular figure internationally, much to the displeasure of the powers to be in Beijing.
Given the Dalai Lama’s age, the issue of who controls the process of reincarnation is becoming increasingly important with the communist authorities wanting to designate its own successor to the exiled spiritual leader.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winner has recently said he may be the last Dalai Lama which has angered communist authorities. The Panchen Lama is also meant to take the lead in choosing the next Dalai Lama.
Led by Deng Xiaoping, the PLA invaded Tibet in 1950. Today, for Tibetans, the country is a prison state. For a good overview of the occupation and exploitation of Tibet by communist China see the below ten minute long video from Free Tibet: