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.
Advocate: Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA)
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released an open letter to the Panchen Lama on his 28th birthday. (April 25, 2017, United State Commission on International Religious Freedom)
Rep. James P. McGovern, Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and DFP advocate, and Tenzin Dorjee, USCIRF Commissioner, co-authored an op-ed calling on the Chinese authorities to provide authenticated videographic evidence of the Panchen Lama's well-being. (October 12, 2017, Huffington Post)
USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee released an open letter to the Panchen Lama on his 29th birthday (April 25, 2018, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom)
Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA) gave a speech on the House floor marking the Panchen Lama's 29th birthday and calling on China to release him. (April 25, 2018, Rep. James P. McGovern)
The Dalai Lama has said the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, according to reliable source, is alive and receiving a normal education. (April 26, 2018, The Tribune)
On the day after his 29th birthday, the U.S. Department of State called upon China to release the Panchen Lama. (April 26, 2018, U.S. Department of State)
To mark his 30th birthday a new, forensic image of how Gedhun Choekyi Nyima might look today has been produced by a forensic artist. (April 23, 2019, BBC1)