Protest held outside London Chinese Embassy, Tibetans call for the release of their spiritual leader – The 11th Panchen Lama

Wednesday, 17th May 2023, London – GATPM

Tibetans and their supporters staged a peaceful vigil outside the London-based Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, on 17th May from 6pm to 8pm. The day is marked by the Tibetan diaspora and their supporters worldwide as the 28th anniversary of the forced “disappearance” of their spiritual leader – The 11th Panchen Lama. They were demanding the Chinese authorities to release their spiritual leader.

On 14th May 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (born 25th April 1989) was recognised as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as per the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Within days of his public recognition, on 17th May, then six-year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima disappeared with his parents and Jadrel Rinpoche, Head of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse (Tibet). Jadrel Rinpoche was secretly in touch with the Dalai Lama in India regarding the 11th Panchen Lama’s search. He was appointed as the Head of the Panchen Lama Search Committee, entrusted by the Chinese Government. [Read more on why China Must Return the Stolen Tibetan Child – The 11th Panchen Lama]

Tibetans and their supporters protesting outside the Chinese Embassy in London on 17th May 2023

Posted on social media, India-based Tashi Lhunpo Monastery stated that they’re very concerned “about his wellbeing”. They pray for their spiritual leader’s safe return “back to the seat of the Panchen Lama, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.”

Support for the Tibetan Buddhist leader is growing worldwide. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Tibet in the UK Parliament released a Statement of concern on this 28th anniversary. The Group said: “On 17 May 1995 China disappeared the then six-year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was recognised by the Dalai Lama, along with his family. He became the world’s youngest political prisoner then. He has not been seen since. Today marks 28 years since he went missing.”

The Parliamentary Group for Tibet further added, “We are deeply concerned about Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who recently turned 34 years old.

“In line with the demands by Reverend Zeekgyab Rinpoche, Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of Panchen Lama, who recently visited the UK parliament, we would like to urge the Chinese government to provide details about his whereabouts and welfare and call for his immediate release.”

The Statement from the APPG for Tibet was read by Tenzin Khunga, General Secretary of Tibetan Community UK.

Tenzin Kunga, Chairman of Tibetan Community UK and gave an opening speech and introduced the speakers.

Members of Tibet Community UK protesting outside the Chinese Embassy London, 17th May 2023; Tenzin Kunga (Chairman, Tibetan Community UK – bearing loudspeaker and Tibet flag) and Tenzin Khunga (General Secretary, Tibetan Community UK – bearing loudspeaker on right)

Mr Enghejirgalang Uriyanghai, Chairman & Founder of the Voice of Southern Mongolia (VOSM) UK gave a short speech. Whilst sharing solidarity with the Tibetan people, Enghejirgalang stated that Southern Mongolia will always stand with the people of Tibet. He said that the Panchen Lama is also a spiritual leader for the Mongolian Buddhists and called on the Chinese authorities for his immediate release.

During their two-hour vigil outside the Chinese Embassy, Tibetans and their supporters shouted loud slogans such as – “Release Release Panchen Lama”, “Free Panchen Lama”, “Free Tibet – China Out of Tibet”.

Tenzin Kunga, Chairman of the Tibetan Community in Britain, said: “It is outrageous that China blatantly disappears a Tibetan child along with his family from the face of earth, keeping them incommunicado for the past 28 years, and yet it is not held accountable by the international community for its actions in denying basic rights to a child. For far too long the Chinese communist regime has escaped meaningful scrutiny. It is high time the UN and the international community demand China to provide the whereabouts of Tibet’s Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and release him immediately.”

Members of Tibet Community UK protesting outside the Chinese Embassy London, 17th May 2023

This year’s Vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in London was organised by Tibetan Community in Britain, Free Tibet and Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities.

Tsering Passang of Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (bearing I love Tibet scarf); Photo: Ignye

Adding his voice on this poignant day, Tsering Passang, Founder and Chair of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities, said: “We need to keep up the pressure and call out China for its continued gross violation of human rights including the freedom of religion in Tibet. We will keep coming back to the Chinese Embassy and send a loud and clear message to China’s brutal regime that we will not forget the atrocities and crimes committed against the Tibetans. Our resistance will continue until justice is secured for our people in Tibet as well as for all those who are still facing persecutions in China and its occupied territories.”

Tibetan National Anthem was sung at the start of the rally. The peaceful vigil ended with a Buddhist Prayer of Truth, specially composed by the 14th Dalai Lama.

Useful Links:

Free the Panchen Lama

Tibetan Community UK

Free Tibet

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, India

Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust

Tashi Lhunpo Monks: 50th Anniversary Year Tour 2023

Author: Tsering Passang (Tsamtruk)

NGO Professional | Activist | Author | Founder and Chairman, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM)

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