Peking turns Tibet into stage to crown boy lama
Thursday 30 November 1995
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.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you looking for work in Ed...
£3000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wor...