US asks China to release 11th Panchen Lama

US asks China to release 11th Panchen Lama

File photo for representation.

The United States today called on China to immediately release the 11th Panchen Lama, reportedly abducted by the Chinese authorities some two decades ago.

"On April 25, we marked the birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has not appeared in public since he was reportedly abducted two decades ago by the Chinese government at age six," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

She said the US is concerned about "eliminating" the religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of Tibetans by the Chinese authorities.

We are also concerned about the ongoing "destruction" of communities of worship, such as the Larung Gar and Yachen Gar monasteries, Nauert said.

"We call on China to release Nyima immediately and to uphold its international commitments to promote religious freedom for all," she said. 

Meanwhile, lawmakers also urged China to respect the human rights and religious freedom of the people of Tibet.

A resolution in this regard was passed by the US Senate, which among other issues, addresses the right of the Tibetan Buddhists to determine their own leadership, including the future 15th Dalai Lama, without any interference from the Chinese government.

The resolution was introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

"We stand by the Tibetan people, who have long been our unwavering friends," Senator Leahy said.

"We also stand by the rights of Tibetan Buddhists, not just in Tibet but around the world, who should be able to determine their own religious leadership in accordance with their inalienable right to religious freedom," he said.

The US Senate unanimously affirmed its support for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to self-determination and protection of their distinct identity.

It said the Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders should be determined solely within the Tibetan Buddhist community.

The Senate also commemorated the 59th anniversary of Tibet’s 1959 uprising against the Chinese rule as "Tibetan Rights Day", and called on the US Secretary of State to implement fully the provisions of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.

Congressmen Jim McGovern and Randy Hultgren have introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives.

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