On October 10, ICT released a photo of a young Tibetan boy believed to be the Panchen Lama. It is now believed that this is probably a case of mistaken identity.
While the source still genuinely believes that this is a photo of the Panchen Lama and finds it hard to believe that the identity is mistaken, and forensic experts are divided as to whether this could be the same boy as in the original photo of the Panchen Lama, a significant amount of opinion leans against its being the same boy.
ICT had genuinely hoped to provide a tool to use in the campaign for the release of the Panchen Lama. Regardless, it is remarkable that Tibetans have almost unanimously refused to display photos of Gyaltsen Norbu. Recently, Gyaltsen Norbu’s photo was seen in Reting gonpa, in the Snowlands Hotel in Lhasa, in addition to the Tashilunpo in Shigatse. But it appears that thousands of his images circulated by the authorities, have been destroyed or are simply not displayed. A more recent photo of the Panchen Lama could not have been widely or safely displayed in Tibet, but it could have given Tibetans hope and confidence that China’s imposition of another boy will not prevail.
The international campaign to free the Panchen Lama remains remarkable. Scores of governments and hundreds of parliamentarians have raised his case and/or demanded his release. Virtually every Tibet support group is engaged in this campaign to some extent. It is a powerful campaign not only because he is one of the world’s youngest prisoners of conscience but also because he is a national symbol of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism.