11th Panchen Lama: Tibet’s Stolen Child

One of the most heartbreaking stories of Tibet is losing a little boy to China’s prison. It deeply saddens me to think how cruel the world can be – not even sparing a little boy.

On 04/25/1989, a little boy, named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born in Lhari County, in western part of Tibet.

On 05/14/1995, when Gedhun Choekyi Nyima turned six, the Dalai Lama recognized him as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual leader of Tibet. Just after three days, when the news about him being recognized as the next Panchen Lama reached the Chinese government, they abducted the little boy, his parents and his teacher. They were all taken to the Chinese custody, and ever since no one knows where they are or if they are still alive today. After his abduction, the Chinese government went onto selecting another little boy as the “real” reincarnation.

On April 25th this year, he turned 23. Every year people all around the world celebrate his birthday to remember him and demand the Chinese government to release him from prison, or at least let the world know where he is. But thus far, they have been playing deaf to all the demands. They often come up with responses, such as, “He is healthy and happy. It is just that he and his family wish to remain away from the public attention.” So many petitions have been signed and so many protests have been held for his freedom. But unfortunately, as it is China, no one really wishes to ruin their friendship with it. Yet it is extremely sad that amidst all these crazy political commotions and diplomatic moves, a little boy lost his freedom. Maybe his life too? No one knows.

In April last year, I made a short film about him, with a hope that by this year, he might be celebrating his birthday outside the prison. But unfortunately nothing has changed. Another year went by, and here we are still calling out for his freedom. Alas, wherever he is, I hope that he is living a happy life. But it seems so unlikely… My prayers and well wishes are always with you, Panchen Lama. May you regain freedom soon.


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