The people have led the freedom struggle and are still fighting diligently for the cause of Tibet. The illegal annexation is an issue that undoubtedly saddens the Tibetans immensely, but there is yet another issue that has had no status update since it happened.
This specific matter is that of the abduction of the Eleventh Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, in 1995 when he was just six years old by the Chinese Communist authorities.
The Panchen Lama holds the second highest position in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government, like their constant claims that Tibet was not occupied but was rather a part of their land always, has also denied any claims or accusations regarding them being the perpetrators behind the Panchen Lama's abduction.
It has been made through China's boisterous claims and their well-plotted deeds afterwards that they were behind this horrendous scheming regarding the true Panchen Lama. Their authoritarian nature of ruling is apparent for the world to see, but when it comes to the Tibetans, this very form of ruling has exceeded all levels of sanity and humanity.
In the year 1995 itself, China selected a boy named Gyaltsen Norbu and appointed him as the Panchen Lama in Tibet. This should have never happened since the Chinese government officially has no say in the matters of the spiritual hierarchy of Tibet.
The Communist government even went to great lengths to organise religious teachings and ceremonies led by the fake Panchen Lama and forced the Tibetans in Tibet to attend it.
China's well-calculated plans are clearly laid for the world to see and to appraise them in how thoughtful they are being to the Tibetans and in this case, how the selected Panchen Lama is being accepted and revered by the people of Tibet.
What the rest of the world doesn't see or hear about is the ways in which the Tibetans are forced to take part in these so-called religious teachings against their will and if they try to avoid it, they are severely punished, tortured and even jailed.
The Chinese fake Panchen Lama is being paraded around with an accompaniment of policemen and officials, clearly a publicity stunt. He is also supposed to be a member of the top Communist party advisory body, but a Chinese government official had revealed in the past how he holds no power as such despite having a position that big.
That is also China's way of publicising how the Panchen Lama is revered as a spiritual leader in Tibet and is given such a high post in the government. The truth about the current, Chinese appointed Panchen Lama is also a bit sad. He is kept under house arrest mostly in Beijing and is neither allowed to speak to anyone nor travel as per his will. He is guarded at all times by a set of policemen and officials and is kept under strict surveillance.
Many speculations and assumptions have been made since his appointment that he will hold significant power in the time that he'll remain as the Panchen Lama.
The Chinese government plans to make him the official face of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. They have cunningly led his visit to other Asian countries to spread his name and to gain support and popularity for his status as the Panchen Lama.
The Communist government being well aware of how Tibet and Tibetans are known for their religion, Buddhism has always eyed it and tried to cause as much destruction to it as possible. The attacks on religious institutions in Tibet and the damaging of thousands of religious relics have been saddening and yet they still continue and will continue in the future if not stood up against.
China wishes to gain power in the field of religious authority so that it can destroy Tibet's authenticity and rule over the people till the end of time.
It has been made clear to protests led worldwide by Tibetans about how they want the information regarding the real (abducted) Panchen Lama to be released and how they would never accept or follow the fake Panchen Lama enthroned by the Chinese government.
Gyaltsen Norbu has been called a "stooge of atheist Chinese Communist Party" by the Tibetans in exile. The Tibetan people's feelings about such enforcement have been clear from the beginning. The Communist party's lack of success in this endeavour led to them making statements about how the successor of the 14th Dalai Lama should also be reviewed and appointed with their permission.
Tibet's history makes it very clear how the Dalai Lamas and the Panchen Lamas are chosen through the predecessor's will. China has, however, come up with yet another boisterous claim as to how they should be the one who would have the power to choose the next Dalai Lama.
The US policy of the Tibet Policy and Support Act (TPSA) passed in December 2020 proved to be a ray of hope for the Tibetans since it mainly focused on how China would have no hand or say in the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama. The issue regarding the 11th Panchen Lama's abduction was also stated in the content.
Recently, in April, the United Nations Commission on International Religious Freedom (UNCIRF) reiterated its call for the Chinese government to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. US representative James McGovern also rendered his support in this matter to advocate on behald of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima through the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission's Defending Freedoms Project.
Such international support regarding the Tibetan issues is a great step for the Tibetan in raising their freedom struggle further on the global platform. Tibetans in exile are able to protest openly against the authoritarian rule and the illegal occupation. The fellow Tibetans back in Tibet are unable to do so openly because of China's austere surveillance and brutal handlings.
Tibetans will, however, never support China's horrendous oppression and will fight even harder for justice. The Chinese Panchen Lama will never be accepted and the bout for the Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (real Panchen Lama) will go on till the truth about his status is revealed.
(Tenzin Choezom writes on Tibet issues. The views expressed are personal)