His Holiness The Panchan Lama
HIS HOLINESS THE PANCHEN LAMA
The Panchen Lama’s Warning to China
All his life, the Tenth Panchen Lama had engaged in a very difficult, delicate and dangerous balancing act in order to articulate his true thoughts without offending the Chinese masters of Tibet. His first major criticism of Chinese policy in Tibet — the 70,000-character petition submitted in 1962 to Mao Zedong — led to his arrest, thamzing and imprisonment.
In March 1987 the late Panchen Lama delivered a second landmark criticism of China’s treatment of Tibet during the TAR Standing Committee Meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. During this lengthy speech, he repeated many points first raised in the 1962 petition.
The following is extracted from the 1987 speech:
Ours is a country of many nationalities. Apart from the Chinese, there are fifty five nationalities which are in the minority. The leftist trend before, and especially after the time of the Cultural Revolution, has caused the minorities to suffer in many ways. Just recently a story entitled Pasang and Her Relatives was intentionally published in a journal to ridicule Tibetans. Last year our representatives from Tibet raised their objections to this story when it was a film script. We even asked Vice-Chairman Ngabo Ngawang Jigme to express our misgivings about this story to the concerned departments. However, the film was awarded a first prize. Another film of this nature, entitled Compassion Without Mercy, was also given an award. Things like this have been done to other nationalities as well.
Tibet Sidelined and Neglected
In November last year a ten-point legal document was circulated with an instruction that we should study it. But this document was silent on the subject of the regional autonomy of minority areas. During the Twentieth Session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress we asked the law department how such an important matter was left
out of this document. The response was that the study of the laws relating to the governance of autonmous regions should be left to the respective minority nationalities.
I strongly objected to this by stating that it should be studied also by the Chinese and especially by the officials who are in a position to implement it. “It is not that we are not able to exercise power, but that we have not been given any powers A servant is naked not because he does not want to wear clothes, but because his master has not given him any clothes,” I said.
Finally some changes were made which were announced in the People’s Daily. There have been many other instances where problems relating to the minority nationalities were completely ignored. This was the reason why I pointed out the drawbacks of the government in a joint session of the sub-committee of the Twentieth National People’s Congress Standing Committee Meeting. I had no objection to the importance attached to Hong Kong and Taiwan. But we did not like the way we were pushed aside and totally ignored.
At the time of the liberation, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai acted in consultation with concerned nationalities. But what has become of the status of nationalities since then is something I cannot understand. I hope everybody will try to understand it. Although the minority nationalities constitute only six percent of the Chinese population, they own sixty four percent of Chinese territory. Therefore, it is in the interest of China to ensure that there is peace and stability in these regions.
In the State Planning Commission’s report, there were many proposals for poverty alleviation in many areas. But these proposals did not say a word on the minority regions. Raising this point in the Standing Committee Meeting, I said, “There is nothing wrong in you becoming prosperous first. We will wear threadbare garments and beg for food. But does that do you proud?” I am no expert on the subject of economic development. But that does not mean that I am a complete novice. I am certain that if the transport and communication facilities in Tibet were developed and if its energy resources were tapped, we should be able to recover the capital investment within two or three years. We are aware of the economic hardship. of the nation. We also know that the nation does not have enough capital resources to invest in all important projects. However, there is nothing wrong with making this kind of decision as a matter of policy. As I said earlier, the leftist policies implemented in the minority regions during the last more than two decades have been very detrimental. The effects of these policies are being felt in Tibet even today. Good as the present policy of liberalization is, the Tibetans are apprehensive that it might not last long.
During my visit to Kham last year I noticed a great deal of devastation caused by large-scale and indiscriminate deforestation. I saw huge landslides caused by this. Industries with the potential to generate high revenue are closed down in minority regions. To take an example, there was a cigarette factory in Taklo-Tron, Yunnan, which could be very profitable. But this factory had to be closed down because of a shortage of trained manpower and the poor quality cigarettes it produced. This despite the fact that it was using high quality raw materials. The industries in Shanghai, on the other hand, do not use high quality raw materials, but they have trained personnel and the best possible technology, resulting in high quality goods and profit.
Special attention should be paid to the minority areas. Industries in minority regions should also be given state help. It so happens that the government starts paying attention only when the industries in these regions are on the verge of bankruptcy. This is either due to lack of concern or a deliberate attempt to put more burden on the people of these regions. When Comrade Hu Yaobang visited Tibet in 1980, he decided to repatriate all the useless Chinese personnel from Tibet. We consider this a wise decision. We definitely need skilled and capable personnel. But what is the point of having useless personnel! I do not believe that all Chinese are competent; there are both competent and incompetent Chinese.
The Chinese Migrants In Tibet
The expense of keeping one Chinese in Tibet is equal to that of keeping four in China. Why should Tibet spend its money to feed them? Instead, we should think carefully on how best the money can be used for the development of Tibet. Tibet has suffered greatly because of the policy of sending a large number of useless migrants. The Chinese population in Tibet started with a few thousand and today it has multiplied manifold. That is the reason why many old Chinese personnel who worked very hard in the initial period are left without any career now. Today, the Chinese personnel come to Tibet accompanied by their families. They are like the American mercenaries. They fight and die for money. This is ridiculous.
Tibetans are the legitimate masters of Tibet. The wishes and feelings of the people of Tibet must be respected. It is widely believed that Wu Jinhua is going to be replaced. I have been instructed to submit an honest report ~n him. My report is that he is one of the best officials in Tibet. Amongst other things, he has successfully implemented the nationalities, religious, and United Front policies. Since economic development is our over-riding priority at the moment, we must take a long-term view. We cannot ignore the problems of minority nationalities. Economic development and minority issues must be given equal importance.
A few schools have been established in Tibet. But the quality of education in these schools is very poor. Schools in sixteen provinces of China have started Tibetan classes, which naturally demonstrates the government’s concern for our people. But this also leads to some problems. First of all, the students are selected on a merit basis which adversely affects the schools in Tibet. It is also a drain on Tibet’s resources as Tibet has to spend a considerable sum of money on them.
Secondly, since most of these students are from primary schools, they are separated from their own culture and home at a very early age. Gradually, they will be alienated from their own parents, people and country. What’s more, the kind of education they receive in China is not at all appropriate to their needs. I noticed in some schools in Yunnan province that although Tibetan is on the school syllabus, the students don’t get to learn much of it. The parents want their children to get a job and stay with them at home after finishing middle school. This shows that they do not want them to go far away from home.
Last year I said during a visit to Kham area that the Chinese have very powerful wings and are well versed in the technology of flying. “They can fly within China and over the Indian ocean. They can even fly to overseas countries for education. However, only about thirty percent of them will return home to help the nation. We minority nationality peoples, if given the opportunity to study abroad, can also fly back home. Tibet and other regions of China spend an enormous amount of money on the education of these Chinese students. But what is the use of spending so much money on them if they don’t come back after completing their education?” I raised this point even in the Standing Committee meeting. There must be a system by which future students to overseas countries should be made to sign a bond promising to serve the nation for a certain period of time. If they don’t return, they should reimburse the entire expenses the state has incurred on their education. Even the students from Tibet should be subjected to the same rule.
Now consider the educational disparity between the Tibetan and Chinese students. Whereas the Chinese students must get an aggregate of 250 points to pass their examinations, Tibetans need to earn only 190 points. But the number of Chinese students passing the examinations is much higher than that of Tibetans. This is because of the language barrier suffered by Tibetans. I have personally experienced this. Although I can speak Chinese, I frequently make big mistakes. This is because Chinese is not my mother tongue. I can never hope to compete with the Chinese as far as the Chinese language is concerned.
To make matters worse, the Tibetan students who have been sent to other provinces find it difficult to acclimatize themselves to the weather, water, food, and, so on and so forth. This causes many of them to fall ill, thus affecting their education. When the parents come to know about this, the only way for them to get to see their children is to fly from Tibet. Some students take leave from the school to go home and meet their parents in Tibet. This obviously is a big financial drain on these families.
Last year, some schools in Shanghai and other areas bought vehicles in the name of schools in Tibet, but which were actually used for their own construction work. The authorities, later on, found out about this racket and set the matter right. But it never became public knowledge since everybody conspired to hush it up. Anyway, things have improved slightly since then. Nevertheless, we must make sure that this kind of practice is never repeated.
The government is soon organizing a meeting to discuss education in Tibet. This meeting intends to encourage an in depth discussion of the education system in Tibet. I feel that educational facilities for Tibetans must be based in Tibet. Utmost efforts must be made to establish all levels of schools in Tibet. When students finish their upper-middle school, they should be sent for higher education depending on their aptitude and the needs of the region. By this time, they will have a basic knowledge of Tibetan language and a strong sense of affinity to their region which in turn, will motivate them to give their best to the region. This arrangement, I think, will be a big improvement. I think it is very important for people of every nationality to learn and use their own language. The Central Government has frequently talked about the importance of learning and using the Tibetan language in Tibet. But it has done nothing to ensure its implementation.
Nurturing Language and Culture
The government has announced four modernization plans. It is important that we learn from the developed countries. But what we must learn from them is their technological know how and scientific way of management. Whoever has the highest standard of living has the best system. I have not thought much on this point. The Japanese way of life is rather complicated. They have a very highly developed educational system to teach culture, science and technology. If a new book is published anywhere in the world, within thirty days one can read it in their language.
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In the whole of the Tibet Autonomous Region no one has been able to translate physics books into Tibetan. What are the authorities in TAR doing? In Qinghai, they have translated everything, whatever the quality. They are also willing to help the TAR. But the authorities of the TAR have not even responded to this gesture. These officials, in effect, are trying to neglect the Tibetan language completely. This is really a very sad thing. Vice-Chairman Ngabo NgawangJigme is scheduled to visit Tibet this year. I am wondering if you can find a way to enact a law for the development of the Tibetan language. If such a thing is done, I can assure you that things will improve even within the next two or three years. Ninety five percent of Tibetans do not speak or understand Chinese. The use of the Chinese language for administrative work in Tibet is aimed only at making things convenient for Chinese officials. Can’t you see that using Tibetan for administrative works will greatly help the Tibetan masses? Some people complain that I talk too much. Maybe, yes. But many people have expressed similar discontentment. So angry was Ngabo Ngawang Jigme with the situation, as I have outlined just now, that he banged his fist on the table during a meeting last year. I hope everyone will think seriously over this matter. Development of the Tibetan language is no small matter. It is directly related to politics.
On the Institute of Tibetology in Beijing
You, Dorjee Tseten (head of the Institute of Tibetology in Beijing) and others!
How can people who are not well-versed in the Tibetan language and culture hope to do research on Tibetan studies? Many people have told me that there are serious complaints against the Institute of Tibetology, especially against the recruitment system there.
In short, there are many things to be done with regard to Tibet work. It is my request that the TAR Party Committee and the TAR People’s Government should carefully study the administrative functioning in Tibet and make concerted efforts for improvement.
I also hope that the Central Government will take more interest in the political situation in Tibet and come up with greater economic support for the region. Tibet today has a very big burden. We, the TAR representatives at the National People’s Congress, have made some suggestions. In the middle-level offices, the old and infirm officials have now been replaced by young and qualified staff.
Nevertheless, there are many among them who still have not got over their leftist hangover, and are guilty of atrocities during the Cultural Revolution. Some of these people have been given promotions despite strong objections from the people.
The Central Government has decided not to repeat the policies of the Cultural Revolution. The promotion of these people was based on a campaign called, “Repenting for the Past Mistakes and Willing to Change,” which was launched only. in Tibet. This movement did not originate from the Central Government. There is no knowing who launched this campaign.
These are not the examples of just a few isolated cases in Tibet. Therefore, Tibet should be treated as a special region, and special political and economic policies should be formulated for this region. And, these policies must be implemented till Tibet’s acute economic problems are redressed and its people satisfied.
Owning up to Mistakes
What Rigzin Wangyal said regarding the handling of unrest in Tibet was quite true. In 1959 there were rebellions in Tibet. Forces were dispatched to quell the disorder, which was a right decision and should not be gainsaid. However, a lot of innocent people were also persecuted. Many mistakes were made in the way the crack down operations were mounted. The authorities did not make any distinction between those guilty and those not guilty of participation in the disturbances. People were arrested and jailed indiscriminately. There were no interrogations. On sight Tibetans were taken to jail and beaten. Things like this are still commonplace in Tibet. We should consider this a serious matter. We should examine and investigate these practices and bring the guilty to book. This is the way by which we will be able to assuage people’s resentment. Isn’t this what we are here to discuss?
In the past, I was punished for submitting a 70,000-character petition. I had clearly mentioned these facts in that petition. In fact, I said the same thing as Ngabo about the way senior officials of the former local government of Tibet functioned. They had a well-established structure and legal system. The aristocrats, who were members of the government, were clad in a white chuba, put on a red ox, and banished if they failed to carry out the instructions of the government. What would you do if this sort of thing happened to you? A career is important to everyone.
On the Annexation of Tibet
In the Seventeen-point Agreement, it was emphatically stated that there would be no change in the power of the Tibetan local government until the introduction of democratic reforms. The same promise was made to the Tashilhunpo monastic authorities. However, what happened later could be summed up by this dictum: “Criticizing the old system from the perspective of a new ideology.” This kind of practice is not very ethical. A scientist must arrive at his decision according to whatever is proved right scientifically. Tibetan aristocrats had served the government for generations. They were deeply devoted to the Dalai Lama and turned to him for refuge both in this and the next life. In the same way, the masses: have deep respect and devotion. This is an undeniable fact. Later on, however, the aristocrats were accused of being the leaders of the rebellions and persecuted. This, I think, was an absolutely wrong thing to do. Of course, I was criticized and punished for this. But truth is timeless. It always remains the same. Undoubtedly, there were mistakes in my petition. But I have never been wrong in speaking up. The mistakes in the content of my petition are mistakes, both today and in the past. But there should be a clear dividing line, spelling out where I went wrong and where I was right.
Talking about Lhoka, first the Khampa guerrillas were based there. But when the Dalai Lama passed through there, people happily donated butter, barley flour and other provisions without being asked for them. This was, of course, a spontaneous gesture of love by the people. Later on the people who offered these things were treated as active members of the resistance. How can you do such a thing? This is something that everyone should know. Speaking of myself, in those days whenever I passed by, people would show love and devotion to me. Now should this be construed as a politically motivated act? Amongst other things, they showed respect to me because they were religious-minded and it is a Tibetan custom. Due care and consideration must be shown to customs and traditions that are special to Tibet.
Quelling the rebellions and introducing reforms was right in principle. But there was a strong leftist tinge to the way this was done. Such things should not happen again and they must be rectified. During the last three decades of communist rule there have been many good things done and many bad things also. These were considered in the Sixth Meeting of the Eleventh National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and were publicized internationally. Owning up to our mistakes will not damage the Party’s image; rather it will help build it. Speaking about the former comrades in the Tibet Military Command Centre and the Chengdu Military Command Centre, some comrades told me that they should not have done what they did. This is a healthy attitude. We frequently say that great achievements were made with your sweat in the liberation and reformation of Tibet and that the people of Tibet will never forget this. This is an honest statement. However, you did make a great deal of mistakes, and these also in Tibet. These too, we will never forget. What I am saying is for the purpose of rectifying these mistakes. If we can do this, we can make progress. I am saying this with the best of intentions.
I will tell you a more personal story at this point. The Government of the Kashag spearheaded the rebellion. Those of us at the labrangs (monastic institutions) were not party to any agitation. In the beginning, we were told great things about peaceful reforms and policies of fraternal relations. However, when the reforms were undertaken, people belonging to our establishments were subjected to untold suffering. This filled people with disgust and disbelief. Most of the members of the local Tibetan government fled from Tibet. A handful, who stayed back, were praised and appointed to government jobs as shining examples of a progressive element. Our people who stayed back in solidarity with China were subjected to unthinkable suffering. Being in Lhasa, as I was at that time, I did not suffer so much. But all my family members were subjected to thamzing (public struggle sessions).
There was one woman, a wife of one of my staff, who was also arrested. One day, when she was called into the interrogation chamber, she muttered, “This man called Panehen had caused me so much suffering that I will die of depression.” This utterance led the authorities into believing that she would say something incriminating about me, a much-awaited chance for the authorities to take punitive measures against me. They immediately called the scribes to record her testimony. Then she went on, “We made a big mistake by following this man called Panchen and not participating in the fight against the Chinese. If he had led us in rebellion against the Chinese, our condition today would be better than this. Because, initially, we would have killed as many Chinese as possible and then fled to India, which would have been easy since India is near our village. But this man told us to be progressive and patriotic. And this is what we get for following his advice. Now it is not possible for us to flee to India. Our people, both men and women, are being persecuted here. We are experiencing hell on earth.”
If there was a film made on all the atrocities perpetrated in Qinghai province, it would shock the viewers. In Golok area, many people were killed and their dead bodies rolled down the hill into a big ditch. The soldiers told the family members and relatives of the dead people that they should all celebrate since the rebels had been wiped out. They were even forced to dance on the dead bodies. Soon after, the family members and relatives were also machine-gunned. They were all buried there.
Actually, rebellions did not occur in all these areas. In Kham, of course, there were rebellions in many places. In Jharoong Parpo and Mili, both in Amdo, the nomads collected their guns and handed them over to the Chinese authorities. They were praised and garlanded during a special function. After the function they were driven to their villages where they were immediately arrested and imprisoned for a long time. There were some very old people among them.
In Amdo and Kham, people were subjected to unspeakable atrocities. They were shot in groups of ten or twenty. I know that it is not good to speak about these things. But such actions have left deep wounds in the minds of people. There are some officials who always leave behind a bad legacy. What is the purpose of doing this? The guilty must, of course, be punished. But what is the use of leaving behind a bad legacy. People who persist in doing this are really stupid. But there are some who consider these people very wise and capable. Comrade Wu Jinhua has a plan to investigate the methods and mistakes made by some of the officials in putting down the Tibetan rebellion. I feel this investigation needs to be done with the utmost diligence.
Mao Zedong said clearly in his speech that he would not only kill the senior Jiang Jieshi, but also the junior ones. Although, I, the senior Panchen, managed to survive, many junior Panchens were killed and tortured in prisons.
In Qinghai, for example, there are between one to three or four thousand villages and towns, each having between three to four thousand families with four to five thousand people. From each town and village, about eight hundred to one thousand people were imprisoned. Out of this, at least three to four hundred people died in prison. This means almost half of the prison population perished. Last year, we discovered that only a handful of people had participated in the rebellion. Most of these people were completely innocent.
In my 70,000-character petition, I mentioned that about five percent of the population had been imprisoned. According to my information at that time, it was between ten to fifteen percent. But I did not have the courage to state such a high figure. I would have died under thamzing if I had stated the real figure. These are serious matters as far as Tibet is concerned. If we pay only lip service to these kind of mistakes and do nothing to redress them there will be equally serious consequences. People may not like what I am saying. But I am saying this out of my love for the motherland.
Loyalty and Future Danger
When I was in East Turkestan, I told the cadres there, Your work will be put to test if there is a foreign invasion of East Turkestan. What people say in meetings is all lies. We should not believe in them. You will be thought to have done a good job here if the people of East Turkestan rise up in support of the PLA. in the event of a Soviet invasion of this province.
Here, I will cite two examples from history. Lenin said that the triumph of the October Revolution in Russia showed that their work with the masses had been good. Stalin did not do good works for the masses. As a result the peoples of minority republics did not support the Russian army in defending the Soviet Union against the Nazi invasion. We have seen films on the Vietnam War. The people belonging to minority races welcomed the PLA, guided them and gave them water, only because the minority groups were fed up with their regime which favoured the Jing majority race against all the others. The people of the Jing race were very cruel. If others did not submit to them, they would shoot them down, even people of fifty or sixty years of age. We should learn from these historical facts.
In 1964, when I was called to Beijing, some leaders told me, “You are turning against the Motherland. Are you trying to start a splittist rebellion? Even if the whole of the Tibetan population is armed, it will only make over three million people. We are not scared of this.” On hearing this, I felt very sad and realized how it is to be without freedom. First of all, I have never harboured such a thought. Secondly, even if I wanted to launch a splittist movement, how can I enlist the support of the whole population of Tibet? Who would dare do it under the prevailing situation? Even if someone did, he would be exterminated immediately.
The rebellion in Tibet was started by a few who had no sense of timing and were completely ignorant of politics and military strategy. If you really want to fight a war, you have to have a sense of timing. You should be sufficiently powerful. You should know your own might and that of your enemy. Without these elements you cannot hope to win a war. You cannot fight a war with a few outdated rifles. The rebels of that time were ridiculously naive. However, if something like that happened in the event of a foreign invasion, then it would be a serious matter for our nation.
That is why it is essential to think about the welfare of the minority nationalities during peacetime. We should make sure that the people of these nationalities are happy as part of the motherland. If this happens, they will be happy to work with the Chinese people in developing the nation. On the other hand, if you cling to the attitude that you will always rule and suppress the minority nationalities, then there will be serious problems in the future.
The examples I gave earlier are relevant here. It is essential to think about war as this possibility looms large nowadays. Of course, we have the power to prevent it. What would we do if a war breaks out now? The PLA was successful in the 1962 Sino-Indian border conflict, mainly because the Tibetans provided the logistic service with their backs and pack animals. These days some people are talking about a possible war with India, which is unlikely. However, should it break out, it is questionable whether Tibetans would support the war effort as they did in 1962.
Some of our comrades are hesitant to implement the new policies. These people have no sense of military strategy. They also have no knowledge of politics. If there were disturbances in Tibet, the government would call an emergency meeting and order Ngabo and me to tackle the situation. We would, of course, be happy to do whatever we could. But if nothing is ever done for the people, how could we hope to help the government when there is trouble?
I always speak very rudely. But it is only for the good. of the nation. I have nothing t~ gain personally from it. Personally, I am quite happy. I feel that I am the happiest man in China. Therefore, you should think in broad terms.
What are we gaining from the leftist practices in Tibet? Those with leftist ideology are suppressing everything. When Comrade Hu Yaobang was disgraced recently, the leftist officials exploded fire crackers and drank in celebration. They commented that the stalwart supporter of the Tibetan people had been defeated. They also said that Wu Jinhua, Panchen and Ngabo would not be able to return to Tibet. Why can’t we be allowed to return to our homeland? But, as it turned out, they celebrated a bit too early. These are the people who are trying to drive a wedge between the Tibetans and the Chinese. We are members of one family. How dared they say that the Tibetan supporter had been defeated?
I would request everyone to think carefully and work for the welfare of the Tibetan people. Tibet always faces financial problems. The government has approved a large budget for Tibet. But where has the money gone? Isn’t it true that the bulk of the money has been misappropriated by the officials and technicians. This is the reason why many projects could not be implemented. We must do something to help the people in Tibet since they are dependent solely on whatever they can earn with their physical labour.
There are so many things we are unable to do, because we do not have the capability. There is not much attention given to the study and use of the Tibetan language. If Tibet is the most religious region, it goes without saying that the study and use of the Tibetan language should be promoted. But many wrong things have been done. In 1958, when I was in Qinghai, I heard that an official document stated this policy: “First the rebellion should be suppressed. Then in launching the campaign to prevent future rebellions, a clear nationality and religious policy-decision should be taken.”
In retrospect, we should have thought how such a policy could be formulated for the future. Although there may be peace and stability today, many minor disturbances will occur. ‘But it is good to think about the entire problem. There is at the moment racial harmony, peace and stability. But we should not be satisfied with this. What are we going to do if there are disturbances in the future? (Translated from the original Chinese) (copied from DIIR Pub. 1996)
Announcement of the Panchen Lama’s Reincarnation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Dharamsala, May 14, 1995
Today is the auspicious day when the Buddha first gave the Kalachakra teaching. The Kalachakra teachings have a special connection with the Panchen Lamas. On this occasion, which also happens to be the Vaisaki, it is with great joy that I am able to proclaim the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche. I have recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, born on April 25, 1989, whose father is Konchok PhUntsog, and mother Dechen Chodon, of Lhari district in Nagchu, Tibet, as the true reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche.
In accordance with the historical and spiritual relationship. between the Dalai Larnas and the Panchen Lamas the Search Committee for the Reincarnation, primarily represented by the Tashilhunpo Monastery in exile in India and various groups and individuals from all the regions of Tibet as well as from outside, have approached me to perform the examination and divination to determine the reincarnation.
I have taken upon myself this historical and spiritual task with a strong sense of responsibility. Over the recent years, I have with great care performed all necessary religious procedures for this purpose and have made supplications to the infallible Three Jewels.
I am fully convinced of the unanimous outcome of all these recognition procedures performed strictly in accordance with our religious tradition.
I have given Rinpoche the name of “Tenzin Gedhun Yeshe Thrinley Phuntsog Pal Sangpo” and have composed a long-life prayer titled “Spontaneous Fulfillment of the Wishes.”
The search and recognition of Panchen Rinpoche’s reincarnation is a religious matter and not political. It is my hope that the Chinese Government, with whom I have kept contact regarding this matter through various channels over the recent years, will extend its understanding, cooperation and assistance to the Tashilhunpo Monastery in enabling Rinpoche to receive proper religious training and to assume his spiritual responsibilities.
The Process by which the Reincarnation of the Panchen Lama has been Recognized
• After the demise of Panchen Rinpoche in January 1989, over the years altogether around thirty names of potential candidates for the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche have been received both from within and outside Tibet.
The places from which the names of potential candidates have been received are: In Tibet — Lhasa, Damzhung, Danang (Lhokha), Lhari Zong (Nagchu), Gyalthang, Tawu, Toe Gegye, Chamdo, Lhamo, Duejung, Tsa Zong of Malho in Tso-ngon, Amdo in the Nagchu area, Gyazong (Lhokha), Tsethang (Lhokha), Lithang, and Getse (Ngari). In India — Dharamsala and Ladakh.
• In 1991, on the third day of the Tibetan Iron-Sheep Year, a divination was performed to find out whether Panchen Rinpoche’s reincarnation had been born in Tibet or outside Tibet. The divination revealed that the reincarnation had been born in Tibet.
• On August 11, 1991, the second day of the seventh month of the Tibetan Iron-Sheep Year, a divination was performed to find out whether a certain child in Tibet, who was widely thought of as being the Panchen Rinpoche’s reincarnation, was authentic or not. The divination was negative.
• In 1993, on the third day of the Tibetan Water-Bird Year, a divination was performed to establish whether it was the proper time to commence and finalize the recognition process. The divination indicated that it was not the right time.
• A petition dated July 17, 1993 was received through official channels via Beijing from Chatral Rinpoche, head of the committee from Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet searching for the reincarnation. He explained that in connection with the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche two visits had been made to the sacred lake of Chokhor Gyal Lhatso (Lhamoi Lhatso) and one to Rinpung Chamsring Yung Tso in order to observe indications concerning the reincarnation. It was also explained that some other religious investigations had been carried out. These indicated that Panchen Rinpoche had already been born and the search for the reincarnation should be conducted in a direction to the east of Tashilhunpo Monastery and among children born in the Tibetan years of the Snake, Horse and Sheep.
• In 1994, on the third day of the Tibetan Wood-Dog year, a divination was performed to establish whether it was the proper time to commence and finalize the recognition process. The divination indicated that it was not the right time.
• In 1994, on the tenth of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, the Nechung Oracle proclaimed, “My teacher, the Meaningful to Behold,” (reference to His Holiness the Dalai Lama) “is continuing to seek the reincarnation. If all Tibetans are firmly united. in solidarity, an unmistaken reincarnation will definitely be found soon in Tibet.” This prophecy was confirmed on the same day by the Tsangpa Oracle.
• Again, on March 30, 1994, at the request of the Tashilhunpo Monastery in India, the Tsangpa Oracle prophesied, “The reincarnation had been born in Tibet, and since His Holiness is investigating the matter there is no need for concern.”
• On December 3, 1994, a divination was performed to establish whether it was the right time to begin and finalize the recognition process. The result was affirmative.
• In January 1995, during a Kalachakra teaching at Mundgod, South India, His Holiness commenced the recognition process. A divination was done which revealed that among the potential candidates, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, whose father is Konchok Phuntsog and whose mother is Dechen Chodon of Lhari district in Nagchu, Tibet, was an “extremely good” candidate for the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche.
• On January 23, 1995, at Dharamsala, after making elaborate offerings before such exalted objects as the Kyirong Jowo (a special image of the Buddha brought from Tibet), the thangka of Palden Lhamo (a female protector of Tibet) etc., special prayers were performed invoking the names of the previous Panchen Lamas. A divination was then performed to determine whether the above-mentioned child, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was the unmistaken reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche. The divination confirmed this.
• To confirm the result of the previous divination a second divination was performed; this corroborated the first result. Therefore, no doubt remained that the child, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, is the true reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche and his recognition was finalized.
• Again, in 1995, early on the thirteenth day of the third Tibetan month the Nechung Oracle proclaimed that, “there is no need for me, the formless, to do or say anything more. My teacher, the Meaningful to Behold, has already investigated the matter through the mind of the three secrets.”
• On May 13, 1995, a final divination was performed to determine whether it was appropriate to declare the recognition oF the reincarnation of Panchen Rinpoche on the fifteenth day of the third month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar (which corresponded to May 14, 1995) or to postpone it for some time. The divination indicated that it would be better to declare it on the fifteenth as proposed.
The child named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was born on April 25, 1989, the nineteenth day of the third Tibetan month in the Earth-Snake Year. His father is called Konchok Phuntsog and his mother Dechcn Chodron. As soon as he was able to speak he said, “I am the Panchen, my monastery is Tashilhunpo. I sit on a high throne. My monasteries are in Tsang, in Lhasa and in China.” Bright and intelligent, he is gifted with a sharp mind. His demeanour is composed and serious and his speech is frank and forthright.
Press Statement by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Dharamsala, November 29, 1995
The search and recognition of Panchen Lama’s reincarnation is a religious matter. Because of the unique historical and traditional relationship between the Dalai Lamas and the Panchen Lamas I conducted all the necessary religious procedures with great care and then determined Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the late Panchen Lama. Therefore, my recognition of the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation cannot be changed.
On several occasions in the past years I have approached the Chinese Government in this matter without success. Last month again I appealed directly to the Chinese President1 Jiang Zemin, to extend his government’s recognition to the young Panchen Lama. I had hoped that a personal appeal from my side might facilitate a gesture of good-will from the Chinese Government.
It is unfortunate that the Chinese Government has chosen to politicize this issue and appoint a rival Panchen Lama. In order to lend a veil of religious legitimacy they have coerced senior Tibetan Lamas and monks to participate in a conference held in Beijing under tight security and strict secrecy. It saddens me that once again the religious sentiments of my people have been deeply hurt and offended.
At this moment the safety of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his proper religious training is of particular concern to me. He has not been seen in the public for some months and is reported to be detained somewhere in Beijing. I, therefore, appeal to all governments, religious and human rights organisations for their intervention in ensuring the safety and freedom of the young Panchen Lama.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s letter to Jiang Zemin
I am deeply concerned about reports that the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima from Lhari district in Ngachu, Tibet, whom I have recognized as the reincarnation of the late Panchen Lama, is not known publicly since some time. The institution of the Panchen Lama is of great importance to Tibetan Buddhism and to the people of Tibet.
It is, therefore, extremely important that his monastery, Tashilhunpo, is able to take care of the proper religious training of the young Panchen Lama. This is of concern not only to me, personally, and to the Tashilhunpo Monastery alone but also to the people of Tibet. I appeal, therefore, to Your Excellency for your personal intervention in extending your Government’s recognition to the young Panchen Lama. This will be greatly appreciated by Tibetans every where and would ensure the well-being of the young Panchen Lama and facilitate his proper religious upbringing according to our spiritual tradition.
I regret very much that the proclamation of the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation has further strained our relationship. Your government has strongly criticized and objected to my proclamation.
I do not wish to raise here again the religious and historical basis for this decision. However, Your Excellency may not be fully aware of the efforts I had made in the past years to communicate with and seek the understanding and assistance of your Government in the search for the reincarnation of the late Panchen Lama. Unfortunately, there has been no response. at all from the concerned officials of your Government. On the contrary, to my great disappointment the concerned officials of your Government repeatedly made categorical statements that no involvement on my part in the search of the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation will be tolerated. On the other hand I had a responsibility to honour and uphold the unique historical relationship between the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas. For example, in my own case, I am personally greatly indebted to the 9th Panchen Lama, who took special interest and responsibility in the search of the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. Furthermore, Tibetans inside Tibet and from abroad have been urging me for early action on this issue since the matter has been pending for too long.
These factors compelled me to proclaim the recognition of the reincarnation on the appropriate auspicious Kalachakra anniversary, on May 14, 1995. I have taken this decision on purely religious grounds in fulfilment of my traditional responsibility. I also took into consideration the need to ensure the religious credibility of the Panchen Lama in the long run in the eyes of the Tibetan people.
The recognition of the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation is in no way intended to challenge Your Excellency’s Government. To the contrary, whenever possible I have always strived to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to reconciliation and dialogue in our relationship. I hold the firm belief that it is possible for us to find a mutually acceptable and beneficial solution on the Tibetan question. With this conviction, I have consistently endeavoured to enter into negotiations with your Government. Moreover, I still remain committed to negotiations any time and anywhere on an agenda without the issue of independence of Tibet — keeping in mind the long-term and large interests of both the Tibetan and the Chinese people.
It is my sincere hope that Your Excellency will consider this request in a spirit of reconciliation and openness.
The Dalai Lama
October 11, 1995
Chronology of Events Surrounding the Recognition of the Eleventh Panchen Lama
January 28, 1989: The Tenth Panchen Lama, Lobsang Trinley Choekyi Gyaltsen, passes away in Shigatse, Tibet.
March 21, 1991: The Chinese Government is informed, through its New Delhi Embassy, that His Holiness the Dalai Lama wish to assist in the search for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. His Holiness expresses his wish to send a religious delegation to Lhamoi Lhatso, the sacred lake near Lhasa, to pray and observe prophetic visions in the lake which will guide the delegation to the genuine reincarnation. China rejects this proposal three months later by saying that there is no need for “outside interference”.
July 17, 1993: The acting abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery and head of the Chinese official search party, Chatral Rinpoche, delivers to Kalon Gyalo Thondup a letter and offerings from Beijing to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The letter records the progress made in the search for the reincarnation.
August 5, 1993: Dharamsala delivers to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi a reply to Chatral Rinpoche. The reply invites a delegation under him to come to India and discuss matters relating to the search for the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation. There is no response to this letter.
October 17 and 18, 1994: A Chinese individual, with close ties to the Government in Beijing, meets with Tibetan leaders in Dharamsala. During the meeting, His Holiness asks the Chinese man to remind Beijing that he is still waiting for a reply to his letter to Chatral Rinpoche. His Holiness also reiterates the importance of carrying out the search for the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation through strict traditional religious procedures.
January 1995: Dharamsala sends two communications to the threatened to stage a demonstration against the Chinese Government’s forceful intervention in the selection of the new Panchen Lama.
July 14, 1995: The local Religious Affairs Bureau in Shigatse issues a formal order removing Chatral Rinpoche, Gyatrul Rinpoche and other leading lamas of Tashilhunpo monastery from their posts.
Eight new pro-Chinese leaders, including Sengchen Lobsang Gyaltsen and Lama Tsering, are appointed as the new administrators of Tashilhunpo Monastery.
September 14, 1995: Tibet Information Network, a London-based news monitoring agency, releases a list of 48 Tibetans who have been arrested by the Chinese police in connection with the Panchen Lama reincarnation dispute.
November 8, 1995: China’s United Front summons a meeting of 75 Tibetans, including Chinese-appointed Gaden Throne Holder, Bomi, in Beijing. At the meeting, the United Front tables a list of three Beijing-nominated Panchen Lama candidates.
November 14, 1995: The 75 participants at the United Front meeting return to Lhasa.
November 19, 1995: The Chinese-appointed Gaden Throne Holder, Bomi, disappears from his home.
November 29, 1995: Bomi resurfaces in Lhasa to draw lots from the golden urn to select the Chinese candidate for the Panchen Lama position. The lots-drawing results in the selection of a six-year-old boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, from Nagchu area in northern Tibet, as the Panchen Lama.
December 8, 1995: Gyaltsen Norbu enthroned in Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, amidst tight security with over 500 PLA soldiers deployed throughout the monastery compound.
January 18, 1996: A bomb detonates at the house in Lhasa of Sengchen Lobsang Gyaltsen, a Tibetan lama and political appointee who collaborated with the Chinese in installing their choice of Panchen Lama. ( Copied from DIIR publication 1996 )
The politicization of reincarnation of His Holiness the Panchen Lama
The Xth Panchen Lama played an important role in Tibet after the Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959. The relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama has both historical and religious significance. Therefore, Beijing goes to great lengths to manipulate the reincarnation issue of the Panchen Lama and now controls the genuine XIth Panchen Lama,
through custody, while promoting its own rival candidate.
On 14 May 1995, the Dalai Lama recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the Xth Panchen Lama who died in 1989. Three days later the boy and his parents disappeared from their home. A year later, in May 1996, the PRC admitted to holding the XJth Panchen Lama “at the request of his parents” because “he was at risk of being kidnapped by separatists and his security had been threatened”. Thus, despite its rejection of the Dalai Lama’s authority in recognizing Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the XIth Panchen Lama, and its refusal to acknowledge him as the true reincarnation, the Chinese government admitted it was detaining the child. It is difficult to understand why the Chinese authorities would go to such lengths to provide “security” for a child who they consider to be ‘lust an ordinary boy”. In December 1995, the PRC government had already appointed its own Panchen Lama — a child named Gyaltsen Norbu.
The “patriotic education” campaign —launched by the PRC in May 1997 in monasteries and nunneries across Tibet —requires students to recognise the Chinese appointed Panchen Lama and denounce Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. Current reports from refugees fleeing Tibet, and from independent travellers, indicate that pictures of the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama are displayed prominently in the major monasteries and tourist hotels across the plateau. Conversely, pictures of the Dalai Lama and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima are banned throughout Tibet. The late Lobsang Damchoe, 65, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 1996 for openly voicing his support for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the real Panchen Lama.
Many politicians, diplomats and high-level foreign delegations have expressed concern over the Panchen Lama’s continued detention, including the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In August 2002, during her last official visit to China as the High Commissioner, Mrs. Mary Robinson told the world press that she had raised the case of the then 13-year-old Panchen Lama with Chinese officials who only replied that the youth was healthy and that his parents wanted him to have privacy. “I urged that perhaps his parents could come forward and at least that there would be some way of verifying the situation which continues to be of very real concern,” Robinson reported.
The Chinese authorities did not heed this request nor have they respond positively to other international appeals that an independent body like the Committee on the Rights of the Child be given access to the youth to verify his whereabouts and well being. Although China may have escaped condemnation on their human rights record at the 59th United Nations Human Rights Commission this year, the absolute disappearance of a child proves the falsity of the nation’s claim to respect religious freedom in Tibet.
The Chinese government has treated the question of reincarnation as a political issue and has analyzed the Dalai Lama’s position in terms of “quasi political control over monasteries or geographical areas”, rather than accepting the realities of traditional religious authority or practice, let alone understanding the distinctions between the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Regulations over religion published in the 1987 Sichuan Measures included a blanket prohibition in Article 6.7: “Monasteries are not allowed to recognize reincarnated Rinpoches recognized abroad, nor Rinpoches recognized by persons sent back to the country from abroad, nor may they carry out enthronement rites in the monasteries for them”. The issue intensified after the death of the Xth” Panchen Lama on 28 January 1989.
The 1992 report of Kardze “TAP”s Religious Affairs Bureau commented,” The reincarnation of a Living Buddha is a significant affair in Tibetan Buddhism. This should be handled conscientiously in accordance with the spirit of State Document 39 of 1991, persisting in the principles of “there can be reincarnation, there cannot be reincarnations of all, this must be handled strictly”.
Despite its avowal of atheism, the Chinese Communist Party also considers itself the guardian of the transmigration of Buddhist souls, and has taken control of the identification of reincarnate lamas. To generate popular support for the Panchen Lama chosen by the Chinese government, the authorities put intense pressure on four eminent monks with links to the previous Panchen Lama, encouraging them to participate in the selection process and endorse the pretender. From the Annual Report 2003 (TCHRD)
(His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama was born on 25th April 1989 and since his recognition by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on May 14th 1995, NO ONE has seen him. Various governments around the world have requested where about the 11th Panchen Lama, so far NO ONE has been able to see him. The officials Chinese reply has always been that the youth was healthy and that his parents wanted him to have privacy . There has been reward offered to anyone who can confirm or produce evidence of whereabouts is His Holiness the Panchen Lama, so far no one has claimed the reward or supplied information.
His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is 21 years old this year 25th April 2010. Although he is an adult now, yet he has not been seen in public and the Chinese Government still refuses to allow any one to visit him, I wander if he is still alive ?.) Thuten Kesang