April 25 is the 22nd Birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet, who has not been seen since his disappearance in May, 1995. The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) joins governments and concerned individuals across the world today in urging the Chinese authorities to declare the whereabouts and welfare of this important Tibetan religious leader, who was taken away from his home in Tibet 16 years ago and has not been seen since.
Enforced disappearance, as defined in the UN Declaration on the potection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, is a continuous crime until the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person becomes known. Accordingly, the enforced disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, is a continuous crime being committed by the People’s Republic of China.
ICT welcomes the recent statement by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disapperance (WGEID) of the UN Human Rights Council which stated: “A case going back 16 years is that concerning Gedhun Choekyi Nyima known as the 11th Panchen Lama. He disappeared in 1995 when he was six years old. While the Chinese authorities have admitted taking him, they have continually refused to divulge any information about him or his whereabouts, making his case an enforced disappearance. A number of human rights mechanisms including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have all called for his whereabouts to be revealed, to no avail.”
ICT also notes that on 29 October, 2010, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) wrote to the Chinese authorities reiterating “its request for information on measures taken to prohibit and prevent enforced disappearances, and shed light on the fate of missing persons such as Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, whose case is not referenced in the reply despite questions by the Committee. Please provide specific information on whether investigation has taken place place, and whether any independent observers have been permitted to visit him, as well as detailed information on the current whereabouts of Choekyi Nyima.”
While urging governments, parliaments, NGOs and UN human rights mechanisms to continue concerted efforts to ascertain the whereabouts and well being of the Panchen Lama and his family members, ICT today, on this special anniversary, urges the Chinese authorities to accept the outstanding recommendation from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that China: “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.”