Peking turns Tibet into stage to crown boy lama

TERESA POOLE

Peking

With the Jhokang monastery in Lhasa lit up by state television as if it were a film set, senior officials from Peking presided yesterday over the theatrical selection, controlled by the Communist Party, of a reincarnated Panchen Lama, the second most holy figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

Despondent-looking monks sat chanting as Luo Gan, from China's State Council, applauded the drawing of lots from a golden urn and the choice of six-year-old Gyaincain Norbu as the "soul boy".

Peking's decision to orchestrate the identification of a new child Panchen Lama confirms that the Chinese have embarked on a new policy of confrontation in Tibet. Dozens of monks have been arrested since last May, when the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, named another six-year-old, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, as the reincarnation.

In its most vicious attack yet, the official Xinhua news agency yesterday launched a smear campaign against Gedhun. The boy's parents "were notorious among their neighbours for speculation, deceit and scrambling for fame and profit", and had lied about Gedhun's date of birth. "The boy himself once drowned a dog, and ... such an action is a heinous crime in the eyes of the Buddha," Xinhua added. Gedhun and his parents are believed to be in detention in Peking, and are likely to remain so.

The Dalai Lama last night issued a statement from India saying that the safety of Gedhun was "of particular concern to me". He added: "It is unfortunate that the Chinese government has chosen to politicise the issue and to appoint a rival Panchen Lama."

The harsh reality of Chinese control of Tibet was there for everyone to see yesterday on a television film of the spectacle on the evening news. Chinese officials sat on chairs, looking down on the monks sitting on the floor as if to emphasis their disdain. Security officials could be seen everywhere.

Peking's biggest problem in staging the drawing of lots was in finding a monk with enough status to perform the ceremony of picking from the urn one of three ivory sticks, each with the name of one boy candidate. In the end it promoted a monk, Bomi Rimpoche, to the title of Ganden Tripa, an academic position, and got him to perform the task.

According to Xinhua, "at the first glimmer of dawn the ancient city of Lhasa looked beautiful and tranquil". In front of the assembled monks, all of whom could be seen on television wearing red security passes, Bomi Rimpoche, 77, prostrated himself and then drew one ivory stick from the golden urn, handing it to officials who proclaimed Gyaincain as the Panchen Lama.

The little boy was thencrowned with a yellow hat and led around as he offered long white scarves to the Chinese officials. The monks threw pieces of barley cakes into the air with little enthusiasm.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003