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Tibetans take out rally for release of 11th Panchen Lama amid controversial appointment by China

In a show of solidarity, exiled Tibetans gathered in Dharamshala on Friday to demand the release of their revered spiritual leader, the 11th Panchen Lama, who they believe was abducted by China.

Chanting slogans on the streets, protesters expressed their concern over the mysterious disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized as the legitimate Panchen Lama by Tibet’s spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama.

“This is the 29th time that we have gathered here and we want the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and tell us the current well-being and whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama,” said Tenzin Kunsel, a protester and regional chairman of the Tibetan Administration. The women’s association reflects the ongoing frustration and determination of the Tibetan community.

The Panchen Lama holds significant spiritual authority in Tibetan Buddhism, second only to the Dalai Lama. However, China’s appointment of Gyaltsen Norbu as its Panchen Lama has sparked outrage among exiled Tibetans, who consider it an insult to their religious beliefs and cultural heritage.

“We want him (Panchen Lama) to be released soon and we want him back. It also reflects a disregard for human rights and there is no religious freedom inside Tibet,” Tenzin Pasang stressed, underscoring the wider impact of the Panchen Lama’s disappearance on religious freedom and human rights in Tibet.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s case remains shrouded in mystery, with China claiming in 2015 that he was “living a normal life” and did not want to be harassed.

However, Tibetan activists and supporters continue to press for transparency and accountability, demanding concrete evidence of the Panchen Lama’s well-being and whereabouts. Since the Chinese military’s incursion into Tibet in 1950, activists have accused China of systematically suppressing religious freedom and cultural identity in the region.

Despite China’s claims of progress and development in Tibet, critics argue that the Tibetan people continue to suffer oppression and marginalization under Chinese rule.

The protests in Dharamshala are a poignant reminder of the enduring struggle for justice and freedom in Tibet, as exiled Tibetans continue to raise their voices on the international stage to demand the release of their spiritual leader and an end to religious persecution in their homeland. ,

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