December 30, 2005
The Dalai Lama said on Wednesday the Panchen Lama had obviously wanted to please Chinese authorities by praising Tibet for its political stability and prosperity.
In a rare interview a few days ago with China's Xinhua news agency, the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, said that he had seen 'ample freedom' in Tibet in the past decade.
The Panchen Lama, who along with his parents is under China's protection, told Xinhua: "I've been to many places in the past decade and witnessed the ample freedom enjoyed by individuals and religious organisations alike."
"Living Budhhas like myself are able to perform religious rituals under the wing of the Chinese constitution and other laws," he said. But in another interview, the 71-year-old Dalai Lama painted a very different picture of Tibet, saying that torture and human rights abuses were still the norm.
The Dalai Lama, the head of Tibetan Buddhism and its political struggle, said he was saddened by reports monks had been killed and tortured by Chinese authorities for refusing to denounce him as a 'separator' bent on damaging China.
"I had stressed if they have to denounce me then please denounce me — no problem," he said, in his palace beneath snow-tipped Himalayan peaks in northern India. "Their safety is more important. Just please denounce me," he said.
The Panchen Lama is the second most senior post in Tibet's main Gelugpa Buddhist sect after the Dalai Lama. Before the young boy was chosen, the Chinese government removed another Panchen Lama who was chosen with the approval of the Dalai Lama — the exiled Tibet leader whom China calls a traitorous separatist.
Many of Tibet's people remain secretly loyal to the Dalai Lama's chosen Panchen Lama. The young Panchen Lama's comments were rejected by the Dalai Lama and exiled supporters of Tibetan autonomy. Some say the teenager is a political prisoner.
Source: Times of India