For almost two decades, the Panchen Lama has been a prisoner of the Chinese government. He was forcibly disappeared when he was just six years old. China claims he is living a normal life but they have refused anyone access to him.
Tibetans are a deeply spiritual people and our Buddhist leaders fulfill a central role in our society and culture. Under Chinese rule, Tibetans have been deprived of the leadership and guidance of our highest spiritual figures for too long. Their absence has had a devastating impact on our people, one that can be seen in the sheer number of monks and nuns who have lit their bodies on fire, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and the release of the Panchen Lama.