Since the Dalai Lama selected him as the next Panchen Lama 15 years ago at the age of 5, Gendun Choekyi Nyima has not been seen or heard from in public or accounted for by the Chinese government. The new governor of Tibet recently revealed some knowledge of his whereabouts, without giving details. From the Times:
The son of a Tibetan herder, Gendun Choekyi Nyima was only 5 when he was selected by the exiled Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. Police swooped on the boy’s village in a county to the north of Lhasa and, pro-Tibet exiles say, removed the child and his parents.
He has not been seen or heard from since. But Tibet’s new governor, Padma Choling, revealed yesterday that the young man, now 20, is still living in Tibet, where “his brothers and sisters are at university or are doing regular work”.
He gave no hint as to the family’s whereabouts but repeated the Communist Party’s mantra: “As far as I know, his family and he are now living a very good life in Tibet. He and his family are reluctant to be disturbed. They want to live an ordinary life.”
The information amounts to a revelation compared with the secrecy that has surrounded the life of Gendun for the 15 years since he vanished and was described by human rights groups as the youngest political prisoner in the world.
The man that Beijing appointed Panchen Lama gained a more public profile this week when he was appointed to the CPPCC and attended the two sessions meetings.