WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday (May 18) demanded that China reveal "immediately" the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama chosen by the Dalai Lama, 25 years after the six-year-old was seized.
The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India and enjoys a wide global following, in May 1995 identified Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second most senior figure in Tibetan Buddhism's largest school.
The boy was taken into custody three days later and has not been seen since, with human rights groups calling him the world's youngest political prisoner.
"Tibetan Buddhists, like members of all faith communities, must be able to select, educate and venerate their religious leaders according to their traditions and without government interference," Pompeo said in a statement.
"We call on the PRC government to immediately make public the Panchen Lama's whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons."
China appointed its own Panchen Lama, who has made a number of tightly scripted public appearances, even though many Tibetans do not recognize him.
Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, last weekRead More – Source