11th Panchen Lama's birthday celebrated across Russia

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Moscow [Russia], April 28 (ANI): Members of the Tibetian community across the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan have celebrated the 32nd birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedun Chokyi Nyima, according to the Dharamshala-based parliament-in-exile, Central Tibetan Administration.

On May 15, 1995, his Holiness the Dalai Lama chose the then six-year-old Gedhun (born 25 April 1989, in Lhari County, Tibet) to be the 11th Panchen Lama. Three days later, Chinese authorities kidnapped him and his family. He has not been seen or heard from since.

The Central Tibetan Administration said their community lit hundreds of oil lamps and offered prayers in Saint Petersburg. Several members from the Republic of Tuva held a prayer service and hung up the lung-ta prayer flags in honor of the Panchen Lama.

Moreover, celebrations were also held in Moscow at Tibet Culture and Information Center by the members of the Tibet community of Moscow.

Last week, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had reiterated its call for the Chinese government to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.

"The Chinese government is so desperate to stifle Tibetan Buddhism that it kidnapped a six-year-old boy," noted USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza, who advocates for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as part of USCIRF's Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. "Unfortunately, Gedhun's tragic plight represents the struggles of millions of Chinese believers to practice their faith in the face of an unprecedented crackdown." (ANI)