Tibetans demand release of 11th Panchen Lama

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New Delhi, Apr 24 (UNI) Tibetans in exile today demanded the immediate release of the 11th Panchen Lama and other political prisoners in Tibet.

The Tibetans made this demand on the eve of the 19th birthday of the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. They urged the Chinese government to free the Panchen Lama ''immediately and unconditionally.'' They claimed that the Dalai Lama has recognised Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama on May 14, 1995. Within days of the announcement, the Chinese police took the then six-year-old and his family from their home and to this day their whereabouts and well-being are unknown. ''Despite repeated attempts, no international human rights organisation, not even the United Nations have been allowed access to the Panchen Lama or his family members,'' they said here.

To mark the birthday of the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Solidarity Committee will organise a special event tomorrow. Among other activities, a Tibetan children's painting competition has been organised. Parikrama band will perform a few acoustic numbers in solidarity with the Tibetan struggle in the evening of the same day.

The Indian supporters of the Tibetan cause will launch a signature campaign to ''pressurise the Indian government'' to take a stronger stand on the Tibetan issue and yet another international student's group will be taking out a free the Panchen Lama' petition campaign.

UNI NAB AKJ HT2045

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