Chirac urged to press China for releaseof Tibetan 'living god'

3rd June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 3 (AFP) - A 120,000-signature petition on Tibet was delivered to the French president's office on Wednesday, calling for the release from detention of the teenaged Panchen Lama, the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

PARIS, June 3 (AFP) - A 120,000-signature petition on Tibet was delivered to the French president's office on Wednesday, calling for the release from detention of the teenaged Panchen Lama, the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

Lionnel Luca, head of the French National Assembly's Committee on Tibet, handed over the petition for the release of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has not been seen since he was put under house arrest by China after being chosen, by the exiled Dalai Lama, as a six-year-old in 1995.

Last week China said the Panchen Lama was "free", but refused to reveal his whereabouts.

In a rare comment about the boy, dubbed the world's youngest political prisoner by rights groups, the State Council, China's cabinet, told AFP he was leading a happy life.

"The boy is not the Panchen Lama reincarnated soul boy," the State Council said in response to questions as to the whereabouts of the boy considered a lving god by followers.

"He is only an ordinary Chinese child, the same as other children.

The boy was chosen in 1995 according to ancient tradition by the Dalai Lama, Tibet's top spiritual leader, as the reincarnation of the former Panchen Lama who died in 1989.

Chinese police swiftly seized him, and in an unorthodox course of action for an officially atheist regime, Beijing selected its own candidate and has since then trumpeted that child's legitimacy.

The Beijing Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu, himself rarely seen, surfaced last month, visiting a sacred Chinese Buddhist temple region that has long been a hoped-for destination for the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan boy's disappearance sparked angry scenes in Tibet and even today protests are held by activists across the world demanding to know where he is.

"To this day, China refuses to give the slightest bit of information on his situation," Luca said in a statement.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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