26 August 2011

INPaT brief aan president Hu Jintao over ontvoering van de Panchen Lama

30 augustus 2010

President of the People’s Republic of China
Hu Jintao
Guojia Zhuxi
People’s Republic of China
Amsterdam, 30 August, 2010

Dear President Hu Jintao,

As the young man recognised by the Dalai Lama as the Eleventh Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has remained under enforced disappearance now for nearly 15 years without any information of his whereabouts or well being, your government, despite repeated appeals by the international community, has refused to divulge any detailed information about him or his family. Since his initial abduction in 1995, public outcry from millions of Tibet supporters has continued to decry your state’s actions as illegal violations of numerous international norms.

Today, 30 August, on this occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, on behalf the network of parliamentarians from more than 30 countries, the International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT), approaches your government to publicly declare the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet, and his family members to the world.

As a member of the United Nations, your country is party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). By abducting Gedhun Choekyi Nima as a young child, Chinese authorities have been in direct violation of the CRC. Furthermore, your government’s actions are also in violation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. While we understand that your government has not yet signed or ratified the Convention on Enforced Disappearance, we wish to stress that your government’s actions nonetheless represent what the Convention defines as “a continuous crime until the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person becomes known.”

We welcome recent statements by your officials as cited in the attached annex, [why?] but we remain deeply concerned that these misleading statements provide no assurances on the true circumstances of the whereabouts and well-being of the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet. The attached annex also includes a listing of UN and Parliamentary actions seeking information on the Panchen Lama.
On behalf of parliamentarians from around the world, who also remain deeply concerned by overwhelming cases of enforced disappearances on the Tibetan Plateau following the arbitrary detention of Tibetans since 2008 Tibetan Uprising, we urge your government to:

-Allow a delegation of international parliamentarians to meet with Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family in order to ascertain their well-being;
– Sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Receive a joint fact-finding mission by the Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforce or Involuntary Disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, to ascertain the whereabouts and well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet; and his family.

Thank you,

Matteo Mecacci, Co-Chair, INPaT Working Group
Thomas Mann, Co-Chair, INPaT, Working Group

Part A. Statements by Chinese officials on the status of Gedhun Choekyi Nima
Part B. Official actions and statements by members of the International Community requesting information on Gedhun Choekyi Nima

Vijzelstraat 77 – 1017 HG Amsterdam – The Netherlands

Part A:
“The young Tibetan person … is studying and living in quite good condition” … “He and his family members do not want to be disturbed so we have to respect their wishes and we cannot arrange a visit.”
– Hao Peng, deputy head of the Communist Party and executive vice-chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, July 2010, answering to foreign journalists questions on the case in Lhasa

As for Choekyi Nyima, he is an ordinary Tibetan young man and his family and him have repeatedly asked not to be disturbed in their normal lives and we should respect their choice on this matter.
– Chinese Delegation statement at 14th session of UN Human Rights Council
3 June, 2010

‘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.’
– Governor of Tibet Autonomous Region, Padma Choling, reportedly telling AP on the sidelines of China’s annual legislative session in 2010.

Part B:

The Committee Against Torture: “The State party should adopt all necessary measures to prohibit and prevent enforced disappearances, to shed light on the fate of missing persons, including Genden Choekyi Nyima, and prosecute and punish perpetrators, as this practice constitutes, per se, a violation of the Convention.” (Bron)

The Committee on the Rights of the Child: “The Committee notes the information provided about the Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, but remains concerned that it has not yet been possible to have this information confirmed by an independent expert…Allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima while respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents.” (Bron)

The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on 9 June 2005, underlined the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in a letter to your government expressing the concern “about the grave interference with the freedom of belief of the Tibetan Buddhists who have the right to determine their clergy in accordance with their own rites and who have been deprived of their religious leader.”

The Special Rapporteur reminded your government that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child remained concerned that it “has not yet been possible to have this information (provided by China on Gedhun Choekyi Nyima to the Committee) confirmed by an independent expert.”

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances which stated that they “would appreciate being provided by the Government of China with documents supporting its statement that he [Gedhun Choekyi Nyima] and his parents had appealed to the Government for protection and at present are ‘leading normal lives and enjoying perfect health.’” However, since 1997, your government has failed to provide the written documentation requested. In view of such lack of cooperation with the Special Procedures, the Working Group in its press release on 2 May, 2006, stated it “discussed communications received on the case of the Panchen Lama of Tibet, China…and noted that this session coincided with the 17th birthday of the Panchen Lama who disappeared when he was only 6 years old.” (Bron)

We also note that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s case was raised to your government by the former-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour, when she paid an official visit to China in 2005. During her last official visit to China, the then UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Mary Robinson requested access to the Panchen Lama’s parents. However, your officials told Mrs. Robinson that the boy is healthy and that his parents wanted him to have privacy. “I urged that perhaps his parents could come forward and at least that there would be some way of verifying the situation which continues to be a very real concern,” Robinson was quoted by an AFP report. She added that the UN office had received thousands of communications seeking an investigation into the whereabouts of the boy. (Bron)

Outside of UN mechanisms, international governments have also continued to voice their concerns surrounding the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. Following the 2007 EU/China Summit and Human Rights Dialogue, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling “upon China to allow an independent body to have access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama of Tibet, and his parents, as requested by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.”

In the lead up to the Gedun Choekyi Nyima’s 18th birthday, the US Congress held a briefing on Tibet, stating that “The fate of Gedun Choekyi Nyima, although unknown, is spiritually and politically significant to Tibetans and their future. In memorializing his birthday we are also acknowledging the ongoing struggle Tibetans face.”

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