Tashi Lhunpo's statement on Panchen Lama's 22nd birthdayTashi Lhunpo's statement on Panchen Lama's 22nd birthday

Today -- April 25th 2011, -- on the auspicious occasion of the 22nd birth anniversary of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama, Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, we at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, on behalf of the Tibetan people in Tibet and in exile, with great reverence extend innumerous good wishes to Him.

The Panchen Lama lineage dates back to 1385, when the first Panchen Lama Khedrup Geleg Pal Sangpo lived, and since then, Tibetan history has seen the seamless reincarnations of Panchen Lamas until today. It is a well known historical truth that the Panchen Lama lineage, along with the lineages of the Dalai Lama, have made tremendous contributions for the spiritual and physical well-being of the Tibetan people in Tibet. Their efforts extend to the fields of politics, economics, cultural and religious tradition.

In addition, the fame and good work of the Panchen Lamas have spread beyond the Tibetan borders to neighbouring Mongolia, China, Japan and other Himalayan regions. Most importantly, the Tibetan people consider the Panchen Lama one of their most significant spiritual leaders, mainly because every successive lineage of the Panchen Lama has played a crucial role in spreading the teachings of the Buddha Dharma and have extensively contributed to Tibetan Buddhism.

In particular, His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama endured much suffering as he led the Tibetan people in the darkest period of our history. During this period, the 10th Panchen Lama served as a prominent leader working for the welfare of the Tibetan people and was a harsh critic of the Chinese government’s Tibet policies. Hence, he was subjected to many years of physical and mental torture that is far beyond our imagination. It is no wonder then that the Tibetan people today remember the 10th Panchen Lama’s courage and contributions, and revere the Panchen Lama lineage.

Today in 2011, proof of the Tibetan people’s faith, hope and belief in the Panchen Lama is visible as Tibetans in every corner of the world, including the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, hold celebrations to mark the auspicious occasion of the birthday of the His Holiness the 22nd Panchen Lama.

However, we are saddened by the fact that the now-22-year old 11th Panchen Lama has remained missing since the Chinese authorities captured him at the age of six in May, 1995. Over the years, repeated appeals have been made to release the 11th Panchen Lama so that the young lama can continue the good work of the 10th Panchen Lama in Tibet. Yet, despite the collective voices of concern and appeals made by organizations -- both governmental and non-governmental -- as well as by individuals and by Tibetan people everywhere, the Chinese government has not divulged any details of the whereabouts or well-being of the Panchen Lama.

China’s unwillingness to recognize the Panchen Lama appointed by the Dalai Lama, and their subsequent appointment of Gyaltsen Norbu as their official Panchen Lama, is evidence of China’s disregard and disrespect of Tibet’s long-held religious and historical tradition. These actions of the Chinese government have hurt the Tibetan people’s sentiments, and it is clear that these were undertaken solely to achieve political gains. Just like the old Tibetan saying, “killing two deers with one arrow,” the Chinese government’s recognition of another boy as their official Panchen Lama, were meant to serve two purposes: a) To oppose and undermine the authority of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and b) To demean His Holiness the Panchen Lama and weaken his name in Tibetan history.

With the wherabouts of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama still a mystery, we at the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery remain deeply concerned about the safety and plight of the 11th Panchen Lama, his parents and family, as well as that of Chadrel Rinpoche and other political prisoners of Tibet.

The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, therefore, appeals to the Chinese government to address the following demands:

1. Provide exact information as to whether the 11th Panchen Lama is alive or not
2. Allow independent organizations to meet with the 11th Panchen Lama if he is alive
3. Immediately release Chadrel Jampa Trinle Rinpoche, head of the search committee of the 11th Panchen Lama, and other political prisoners
4. Stop the baseless defamation of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
On this day, we would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the steadfast support we have received from many organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, as well as by individuals at all levels. We thank you for your efforts and encouragement thus far, and earnestly request you to continue supporting our cause until Chinese authorities pay heed to our demands and work in accordance with the aspirations of the Tibetan people.

Today, we remember especially the monks of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet and the Tibetan people living under Chinese rule who -- despite being subjected to various forms of torture at the hands of the Chinese authorities -- have been firm in their ideology and were able to tell truth from lies. We remember the many who sacrificed their lives and the tremendous suffering they underwent over the years, while fighting for the cause of His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama.

And finally, we pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. We pray also for their prayers to be fulfilled, and that the fruits of their labor are felt all over the world, just like the light from the Sun and the Moon. Our greatest hope and prayers is that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama be once again reunited in the Land of Snows.

Issued by:
The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Bylakuppe, April 25, 2011

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