|Intro||Tibetan religious leader, recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama but not the Chinese government|
|Was||Buddhist monk Monk Bhikkhu|
|Birth||25 April 1989, Lhari County, People's Republic of China|
|Death||17 May 1995 (aged 6 years)|
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (born on April 25, 1989, in Lhari County, Tibet) is the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism according to the Dalai Lama. He was declared the 11th Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama on 14 May 1995. He was rejected by the search team appointed by the State Council of the People's Republic of China. He was born in Lhari County, Tibet Autonomous Region. After his selection, he was taken into what the PRC government described as protective custody and has not been acknowledged in public since 17 May 1995.
Selection of the 11th Panchen Lama
Four days before his death, the 10th Panchen Lama made his own will publicly to follow the tradition. On 24 January, following the opening ceremony of the Ling Pagoda, with religious figures in Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and autonomous regions, the 10th Penchen Lama held a special talk on the reincarnation of the Living Buddha, proposing that "the three candidate boys should be identified first and then investigated one by one" and "I would like to take the lead by drawing lots of Golden Urn before the image of Sakyamuni."
Following the death of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1989, the search for an individual to be recognised as his reincarnation by Tibetan Buddhists quickly became mired in mystery and controversy, as Tibet had been under the occupation and control of the anti-religious government of the People's Republic of China since 1959.
Three days after the death of the 10th Panchen Lama, the Premier of the State Council published its decision on how the 11th Panchen Lama was to be selected, claiming to have taken advice from the committee of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and monks.
Armed with Beijing's approval, the head of the Panchen Lama search committee, Chadrel Rinpoche, maintained private communication with the Dalai Lama in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable candidate for both the Dalai Lama and Beijing authorities concerning the Panchen Lama's reincarnation. After the Dalai Lama named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama on 14 May 1995, Chinese authorities had Chadrel Rinpoche arrested and charged with treason. According to the Tibetan Government in Exile, he was replaced by Sengchen Lobsang Gyaltsen, so chosen because he was more likely to agree with the party line. Sengchen had been a political opponent of both the Dalai Lama and the 10th Panchen Lama. Because of the history of rivalry between different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, many Tibetans and scholars believe that this was a tactical move by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to create more unrest and disunity between the typically unified Tibetan peoples.
The new search committee ignored the Dalai Lama's 14 May announcement and instead chose from a list of finalists which excluded Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. In selecting a name, lottery numbers were drawn from a Golden Urn, a procedure used in Tibet by the Chinese (Manchu) emperor in 1793. The 14th Dalai Lama stated that the Tibetan method involves using possessions of the former Lama to identify his reincarnation, as the new child incarnate will reportedly recognize his past items amid miscellaneous ones. On January 26, 1940, the Regent Reting Rinpoche requested the Central Government to exempt Tenzin Gyatso from the lot-drawing process of the Golden Urn to become the 14th Dalai Lama. The request was approved by the Central Government. Chinese authorities announced Gyancain Norbu as the search committee's choice on 11 November 1995.
The BBC reported that the CCP's choice of Gyancain Norbu was rejected by most Tibetans. Alexander Norman wrote, "Today, the Panchen Lamas are famous for having two claimants to the see of Tashilhunpo: one recognised by the present Dalai Lama and taken into house arrest by the Chinese, the other recognised by China but by no one else."
Since his selection, the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima have been unknown. Officials state that his whereabouts are kept undisclosed to protect him. Human rights organizations termed him the "youngest political prisoner in the world". No foreign party has been allowed to visit him.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child requested to be told of Nyima's whereabouts on 28 May 1996. Xinhua declined, responding that Nyima was at risk of being "kidnapped by separatists" and that "his security had been threatened". The Committee requested a visit with Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, supported by a campaign of more than 400 celebrities and associations petitioning for the visit, including six Nobel Prize winners. According to statements by the Chinese government from 1998, he was then leading a normal life.
In May 2007, Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the UN Human Rights Council, asked the Chinese authorities what measures they had taken to implement the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, that the government should allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents. In a response dated 17 July 2007, the Chinese authorities said: "Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a perfectly ordinary Tibetan boy, in an excellent state of health, leading a normal, happy life and receiving a good education and cultural upbringing. He is currently in upper secondary school, he measures 165 cm [5 ft 5 in] in height and is easy-going by nature. He studies hard and his school results are very good. He likes Chinese traditional culture and has recently taken up calligraphy. His parents are both State employees, and his brothers and sisters are either already working or at university. The allegation that he disappeared together with his parents and that his whereabouts remain unknown is simply not true." This response did not answer the question about a visit or confirmation.
In 2015, on the twentieth anniversary of Gendun Choekyi Nyima's disappearance, Chinese officials announced "The reincarnated child Panchen Lama you mentioned is being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed."
In April 2018, the Dalai Lama declared that he knew from a "reliable source" that the Panchen Lama he had recognized, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was alive and receiving normal education. He said he hoped that the PRC appointed Panchen Lama (Gyaincain Norbu) studied well under the guidance of a good teacher, adding that there were instances in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, of a reincarnated lama taking more than one manifestation.
As of 2020, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has not been seen by any independent observer since his disappearance in 1995.