A travelling exhibition on the life and times of the Xth Panchen Lama made its first appearance in the United States of America during the recently concluded Kalachakra initiations in Washington, D.C. The ten-day long exhibition also provided rare glimpses of the missing XIth Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima.
The Central Association for His Holiness the Panchen Lama, an organisation dedicated to the welfare of the Panchen Lamas in a release Tuesday said that the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery’s Panchen Lama photo exhibit “drew thousands of viewers, and raised awareness about the crisis of the missing Tibetan lama through the photographs on display”.
The Xth Panchen Lama Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen spent nearly ten years in Chinese prison on counter-revolutionary charges and passed away under mysterious circumstances in January 1989. The historic 70,000 character petition that the Xth Panchen Lama authored spelled out the failure of Chinese policies on Tibet and demanded the protection of Tibetan language, cultural heritage and religion.
“The exhibition aims to show the world that the Xth Panchen Lama had consistently worked for the welfare of the Tibetan people and had struggled to preserve Tibetan cultural and religious traditions even under Chinese rule,” Ven. Lobsang Dorjee, president of the Central Association for His Holiness the Panchen Lama said.
Ven. Dorjee, who was also a member of the search committee for the XIth Panchen Lama expressed hope that the exhibition succeeds in creating awareness and raising support for the ongoing campaign for the release of the XIth Panchen Lama.
The XIth Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima and his parents were kidnapped by Chinese officials months after he was recognised as the next reincarnation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1995. The little boy at the age of six became the world’s youngest political prisoner and till date the Chinese government refuses to provide any information on the XIth Panchen Lama and his parents.
“Through this exhibition, the monastery hopes to create awareness amongst the public and garner support for the campaign to release the 11th Panchen Lama”, Khen Rinpoche Kachen Lobzang Tseten, Abbott of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery said.
Actor and long-time campaigner for the release of the XIth Panchen Lama, Richard Gere was amongst the thousands who visited the exhibition.
“How wonderful you have brought together these photos of Panchen Rinpoche’s life story. (They are) very very moving”, the release quoted Richard Gere as saying.