Open Letter from USCIRF Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee to the Panchen Lama on his Birthday (April 25)

Apr 25, 2017

April 25, 2017


Your Holiness Gedhun Choekyi Nyima:

Tashi Delek.  I write to wish you a happy and healthy 28th birthday. Even though it saddens me to think that you may never read this, every Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on which I serve, is thinking of you on this special day.

Ever since you were abducted as a young child at the age of six, the Chinese government has refused to share even basic information about you and your whereabouts. Please know that I think about you every day, and as each year passes, my resolve to find you and restore you to your rightful role becomes stronger.

By the age of 28, I had received both a Tibetan and modern education, as well as advanced Buddhist studies in the Tibetan diaspora in India. I would like to know more about you, especially about your well-being and the education you have received.  I fear that the Chinese government has taken away your religious identity. I pray that you will one day be able to live a free life and take your rightful place as the 11th Panchen Lama.

Please know that it is my responsibility to advocate on your behalf, and for those others in China who are being persecuted because of their religious beliefs and activities.

On behalf of all Tibetans, most respectfully, I offer you the traditional mandala for your good health, and long life.  I fervently pray for your freedom and receiving your blessing in person.

May you celebrate your 29th birthday, and every birthday thereafter, in freedom.

With deepest respect,

Tenzin Dorjee


Tenzin Dorjee is a Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a U.S. government body that monitors the universal right to the freedom of religion or belief. Commissioner Dorjee is also the first Tibetan Buddhist appointed to serve on the Commission.

USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project highlights the plight of individuals who have been imprisoned for their religious beliefs, practices or identity. To learn more about this project or to interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at