After the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama is one of the highest Tibetan spiritual leaders. In 1995 Chinese officials kidnapped him at the young age of 6. More than two decades later, Tibetans continue to demand for the Panchen Lama to be released and returned to the people of Tibet. China claims he is living a normal life but they refuse anyone access to him.
His Holiness the Panchen Lama will turn 30 on April 25, 2019. This should be an occasion of great celebration for Tibetans everywhere; but instead we will mark this occasion in protest and with sadness as the Panchen Lama has been a prisoner of the Chinese government for 23 years. May 17, 2019 marks 24 years of his enforced disappearance.