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Disappeared Since Age Six, Panchen Lama Turns 26

Panchen Lama photo source DIIR, CTA
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Tibetans around the world commemorate the birthday of Panchen Lama by protesting the Chinese government, but a Panchen Lama observer in Dharamsala expresses his concerns that Gendu Chokyi Nyima might slowly disappear from the minds of Tibetans.

Tsangtrug Topla, who has researched about the Panchen Lama extensively tells VOA's Tibetan Service that an annual birthday observation is not enough to remember the importance of Panchen Lama for Tibet. “If Tibetan people let Panchen Lama disappear from their minds, we not only face the risk of losing him, but his historical influence would naturally be lost,” says Topla.

Gendun Chokyi Nyima, recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama at the age of 6, disappeared with his parents, Kunchok Phuntso (father) and Dechen Choedron (mother), soon after his recognition.

Ever since his abduction, no one from the outside world, including the United Nations and Amnesty International has had access to learn about the whereabouts of the boy, who turns 26 this Friday.

Due to China’s sensitivity about the Panchen Lama, there has not been a credible source confirming information on his situation or his family members. However, rumor has it that the Panchen Lama has a brother and a sister.

Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing has not responded to the questions VOA has inquired regarding the whereabouts and condition of the Dalai Lama’s recognized Panchen Lama.

Although Beijing has refused to answer specific questions from VOA, it has previously confirmed that the Panchen Lama was under their control.