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Freedom plea to Zemin for child Lama

Kalimpong, Nov. 21: The Indo- Tibetan Friendship Society, Kalimpong branch, has appealed to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, urging him to release 13-year-old Gendun Tenzin Choekyi Niyma, who was recognised as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama in 1995.

The society also requested the government to persuade their Chinese counterparts to release the child unconditionally.

Both the Tibetans and Buddhists have alleged that the Chinese army had launched a massive search to identify the child soon after the Dalai Lama recognised him as the reincarnation. He was abducted soon after. The whereabouts of his family is also unknown, they said.

The International Tibet Support Network, which has declared November 20, 2002, as Universal Children’s Day, demanded that Niyma, considered the youngest political prisoner, be allowed all the privileges “ordinary children of the world enjoy”.

To protest against the Chinese outrage that “has robbed a child of his childhood”, the Kalimpong branch of the society, along with several local NGOs, which extended their support for the cause of freeing the prisoner, held a public meeting last evening. This was followed by a “candle-light procession”.

Children and adults joined the procession praying for the well-being of the prisoner. Hundreds of sympathisers walked the length of the Kalimpong main road, candle in hand, till late at night.

“We believe Tenzin Niyma is still under Chinese detention. This is a matter of great concern for Tibetan people in particular and the Buddhist community in general.

Numerous human rights activists and international organisations have expressed concern about the safety and health of the 13-year-old boy,” said P.T. Bhutia, general secretary of the Indo-Tibetan Society.

“The Republic of China, however, maintains that he is safe and in good health and is living with his parents under the protection of the Chinese government,” he added.

Members of the Indo-Tibetan Friendship Society added that the Chinese authorities had imprisoned another child, Gyaltsen Norbu, on the assumption that he too was a reincarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama, within six months of kidnapping Niyma.

“The blatant violation of all conventional, traditional and spiritual norms by the Chinese government is condemned by one and all,” Bhutia said.

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