- The Washington Times - Friday, April 24, 2020

A boy believed to be holy and imprisoned a quarter-century ago at the age of 6 by Chinese authorities should be released, if he is still alive, said the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Friday.

“Saturday, April 25 will be Panchen Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s 31st birthday,” said Tenzin Dorjee, a USCIRF Commissioner and professor in the Department of Human Communication Studies at California State University, Fullerton. “Unfortunately, Gedhun’s tragic plight represents the struggles of millions of Chinese believers to practice their faith in the face of an unprecedented crackdown.”

Three days after the Dalai Lama chose the six-year-old Gedhun to be the 11th Panchen Lama, believed to be the most-important spiritual authority in Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese authorities kidnapped him and his family. He has not been heard from or seen since.

Last week, a member of the Belgian Federal Parliament also issued a statement calling for the release of the Panchen Lama. Last year, a forensic artist produced an age-progression image based on the only known photograph of Gedhun taken for his 30th birthday.

The USCIRF is an independent and bipartisan commission of the federal government, making policy recommendations to the president, the Secretary of State, and Congress.

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