Panchen Lama

After the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama is one of the highest Tibetan spiritual leaders. In 1995 Chinese officials kidnapped him at the young age of 6. More than two decades later, Tibetans continue to demand for the Panchen Lama to be released and returned to the people of Tibet. China claims he is living a normal life but they refuse anyone access to him.

Gendun Choekyi Nyima was kidnapped by the Chinese authorities just 2 months after he was officially recognized in 1995 as the 11th Panchen Lama, one of Tibet’s most important religious leaders. He and his family have been held under house arrest ever since.

Shortly after Gendun Choekyi Nyima’s detention, the Chinese government installed another young boy, Gyaincain Norbu, in his place. For many years this puppet Panchen Lama was kept hidden, but for the past few years, Chinese authorities have used Gyaltsen Norbu as a mouthpiece for their propaganda campaign against the Dalai Lama.

Tibetans continue to revere him as a strong figure for Tibetan identity and nationhood. In June of 2012, Jigme Dolma, just 17-years-old, took to the streets in Tibet issuing flyers and shouting slogans for the release of the Panchen Lama. She was severely beaten and handed a 3-year prison sentence.

His Holiness the Panchen Lama will turn 30 this April. This should be an occasion of great celebration for Tibetans everywhere; but instead we will mark this occasion in protest and with sadnessas the Panchen Lama has been a prisoner of the Chinese government for 23 years. May 17, 2019 marks 24 years of his enforced disappearance. 

SETTING A WORLD RECORD ON THE PANCHEN LAMA’S 29TH BIRTHDAY

On the 29th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet – Gendun Choekyi Nyima – Students For a Free Tibet and the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery are attempting to set a new Guinness World Record for “The Most Candles Lit on a Birthday Cake.” The current record stands at 72,585 candles. We will attempt to light 130,000 candles on the cake – a number symbolic of the approximate population of Tibetans in exile.

Gendun Choekyi Nyima, one of the most important religious figures in Tibet, was just 6 years old when he, along with his family members, were abducted by Chinese authorities in 1995, making him the youngest political prisoner in the world.

The Panchen Lama’s disappearance has resulted in international outcry. World leaders and UN experts have condemned China’s enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama and called for his release, but these appeals continue to go unheeded. For over two decades, the Chinese authorities have denied requests from governments and the United Nations for access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family, claiming that he leads a normal life and does not wish to be disturbed.

Through our attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most lit candles on a birthday cake, we will  bring international attention to the Panchen Lama’s dire situation and expose the oppressive policies through which the Chinese government controls the Tibetan people.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world that campaign for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. We work to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement for social justice.


Bike Rally to Call for the Release of Panchen on His 30th Birthday  2019

Gendun Choekyi Nyima, one of the most important religious figures in Tibet, was just 6 years old when he, along with his family members, were abducted by Chinese authorities in 1995, making him the youngest political prisoner in the world.

On the 30th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet – Gendun Choekyi Nyima – Tibetan Youth Congress and Students for a Free Tibet – India have collectively initiated a Bike Rally event from Mcleod Ganj to Delhi from 23rd April to 25th April. The event is set to raise awareness on the Panchen Lama and raise collective voice against China’s brutal rule in Tibet and imprisoning hundreds and thousands of innocent Tibetans. The event kickoffs from McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala on 23rd April at 9 am and proceeds on to Chandigarh where a press conference has been held. From Chandigarh, the rally  continued to Delhi and was concluded in Delhi with birthday Cake celebration.“It’s been twenty four years since the forced disappearance of HH the 11th Panchen Lama and today we demand substantial genuine evidence on his current status and condition” Tenzin Jigme, President of Tibetan Youth Congress.

“The disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima by the Chinese authorities constitutes an ‘enforced disappearance‘in violation of the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Panchen Lama is the world youngest Political prisoner. He was abducted at the age of six by China after His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama recognized him as the 11th Panchen Lama.” adds Rinzin Choedon, the National Director of Students for a Free Tibet. This Bike Rally event is initiated to draw international attention to the Panchen Lama’s dire situation and expose the oppressive policies through which the Chinese government controls the Tibetan people.