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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima


Detained Since: May 17, 1995.

Charges: No official charges.

Sentence: No official sentence.

Biography: Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama has been held by Chinese authorities in a secret location since 1995 when he was six years old, allegedly to keep him safe from “Tibetan Nationalists.”  China refuses all requests, both domestic and international to see Nyima.  The Panchen Lama is a high ranking spiritual leader in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy and is passed down by reincarnation.   The Dalai Lama selected Gendun Choekyi Nyima in 1995 to be the next Panchen Lama, while Chinese authorities decreed Gyaltsen Norbu to be the next.  As the Panchen Lama traditionally is held responsible for the selection of the Dalai Lama, The Chinese authorities believe it is important to control the Panchen Lama’s fate.

According to Chinese government claims, he is attending school and leading a normal life somewhere in China.  Chinese officials have stated that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a “perfectly ordinary boy” who is in “protective custody,” growing up in an “excellent state of health.”  However, no outside party has been allowed to visit Nyima because state officials claim to keep his whereabouts undisclosed in order to protect him.

Advocacy Partner: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Advocate: Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA)