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    Tibetans Call for Release of 11th Panchen Lama

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    NTDTelevision

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    Tibetan exiles are calling on the Chinese regime to release the 11th Panchen Lama, an important Tibetan spiritual figure. He's believed to have been kidnapped when he was just six years old. His case is a source of simmering tensions for ethnic Tibetans living in China and abroad.

    The 11th Panchen Lama is the second highest-ranking spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism, and also said by rights groups, to be the world's youngest political prisoner.

    Protests for his release were held on his 22nd Birthday on Monday at monasteries throughout India's northern state of Himachal Pradesh, and outside Chinese Embassies around the world.

    Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was taken into custody in 1995 when he was just six years old and shortly after he was given his spiritual title by Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Neither he nor his family have been seen in public since.

    The Chinese regime then chose its own Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, but few exiled Tibetans recognize him.

    In towns like India's northern hill resort of Shimla, hundreds of Tibetans marched down the streets holding candles and chanting hymns.

    A Tibetan Buddhist, Tsering Diki voiced her concern about alleged Chinese atrocities at the Kirti Monastery in Sichuan province, where 17 monks and 17 other Tibetans were arrested in recent weeks.

    [Tsering Diki, Tibetan Buddhist]:
    "Today is the 22nd birthday of His Holiness the Panchen Lama. We have no idea where he is right now. So we have been praying for him and his release and apart from those, we are also praying for the Tibetan monks who have been imprisoned in Tibet in Kirti Monastery."

    Chinese authorities deny the boy's family is under house arrest and say they do not want to be disturbed.