China’s Panchen Lama visits Tibet

7th July 2014

Religious leader appointed by China tours Tibet as world celebrates the Dalai Lama’s birthday.

Whilst Tibetans and Tibet supporters worldwide celebrated the Dalai Lama’s 79th birthday, China’s Panchen Lama, who lives in Beijing and is controlled by China’s Communist Party, made his annual visit to Tibet last week. In Tibet, the Panchen Lama is a religious figure second only to the Dalai Lama but as the current Panchen Lama was appointed by Chinese government, the vast majority of Tibetans do not recognise him. He visited various monasteries in Tibet and met local Chinese appointed political leaders. His visit included the Jokhang and Sera Monastery in Lhasa. Both of these monasteries have seen significant protests in the past and are now under heavy surveillance.

Monasteries under surveillance

In May 2012, two young Tibetans set themselves on fire in protest against China’s rule in front of the Jokhang Monastery. Last year Tsultrim Kalsang was sentenced to 10 years for ‘intentional homicide’ a charge used by the Chinese authorities to crackdown protests and critics of Chinese policy in Tibet. Kalsang was a student at Sera’s Monastic University, until he was forced to return to his home after participating in 2008’s mass protests in Lhasa.

Tibetan Buddhism

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since he was forced out of Tibet in 1959 by China. Soon after he recognised 6 year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama, the boy and his family were taken into custody by the Chinese government, who then appointed their own state-recognised Panchen Lama.

World’s youngest political prisoner

The original Panchen Lama turned 25 this year and was the world’s youngest political prisoner at the time of his abduction. Despite repeated requests by various governments and the United Nations for access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family, the Chinese Government claims that he is leading a normal life and does not wish to be disturbed. The Panchen Lama traditionally recognises the Dalai Lama's reincarnation and by appointing their own, China wants to ensure that it will control the next Dalai Lama and control Tibet, through its religion. Read Free Tibet’s latest news

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