Forensic image of abducted Tibetan leader unveiled on ‘The One Show’

Panchen Lama. Forensic Image.
Panchen Lama. Forensic Image.
Panchen Lama. Forensic Image.
24th April 2019

A forensic image of Tibet's missing Panchen Lama has been unveiled on BBC's The One Show, 24 years after he was abducted by the Chinese government

A forensically constructed image showing what Tibet’s missing Panchen Lama could look like twenty-four years after his abduction by the Chinese government was unveiled on BBC’s The One Show yesterday.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima went missing on 17 May 1995, three days after being named Tibet’s new Panchen Lama, making him one of the youngest political prisoners in the world.

The Tibetan spiritual leader who is considered second only in importance to the Dalai Lama has not been seen since. The unveiling of the image came two days before his 30th birthday.

National Crime Agency listed forensic artist Tim Widden worked with the International Tibet Network and used the only available photograph of the young Panchen Lama to create an age progression picture of what he could look like today at thirty.

The image was unveiled in front of members of the UK’s Tibetan community in South London in early March. It was only revealed to the public yesterday.

“No age progression is going to be a hundred percent accurate… however in terms of the proportions of the face, I’d expect there to be a good level of congruence between the age progression and what he looked like now,” the forensic artist Tim Widden told Free Tibet.

The Tibetan community hope the image will spark renewed interest in his case and put pressure on China, whose authorities are believed to have abducted him.

Pempa Lobsang, a member of the UK Tibetan community, said he believes the real message behind the image is a call for public attention on the case while publicly questioning China on what has happened to the young Panchen Lama.

Despite repeated requests from Tibetans and Tibet campaign groups, human rights organisations, governments and United Nations agencies, the Chinese government has so far refused to give credible information about where he’s held or about his health.

After the child and his family went missing, Beijing named a new Panchen Lama chosen by them and loyal to the Chinese Communist Party. Tibetans and Tibet campaign groups have claimed this is part of a Chinese attempt to control Tibetan Buddhism.

Despite the particular significance of this individual, Widden said he treated this image progression like he would any other missing persons case.

“My role in this isn’t in any way political. It’s simply regarding a missing individual that I felt deserved to have an age progression. I believe everyone missing deserves to have a regular age progression to keep their case alive in the eyes of the world,” he said.

A link to the programme can be found here.

Members of the UK Tibetan community and Tibet campain organisations held a demonstration outside the BBC's offices during the screening of the show.

A link to the programme can be found here.


Tibetan demonstration outside the BBC's offices during The One Show
Tibetan demonstration outside the BBC's offices during The One Show

Lost Lama | Where is the Panchen Lama - BBC The One Show


Urge the EU and UK to use their powers to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family immediately.