From The New York Times (link):
A Tibetan youth considered by rights groups to be the world’s youngest political prisoner turns 17 on Tuesday, 11 years after disappearing from public view when he was named the Himalayan region’s second-ranking religious figure.
The whereabouts of Gendun Choekyi Nyima — who human rights watchdogs say has been living under house arrest since Tibet’s exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama, appointed him the 11th Panchen Lama — is one of China’s most zealously guarded state secrets.
A senior Canadian official pressed for access to Nyima during a visit to Tibet this month, but it fell on deaf ears.
Chinese officials parroted their assertion that Nyima was “safe and comfortable and wishes to maintain his privacy,” said the Canadian, who requested anonymity.
The Chinese cabinet spokesman’s office did not reply to a list of questions submitted by fax a week ago.