Written Answers. - Tibetan Imprisonments.

Mary Harney

Question:

58 Miss Harney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the contacts, if any, he has had with the Chinese authorities in relation to the imprisonment of the Panchen Lama and the Abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery. [8719/96]

Representations have been made to the Chinese authorities concerning Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the six year old boy who is the Dalai Lama's choice as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, and the Abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery, Chadrel Rinpoche.

During their visit to China from 22 to 24 January 1996, the EU Troika Delegation on Human Rights, on which Ireland was represented, raised the question of the dispute over the selection of the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama between the Dalai Lama and the Central Government, with a view to seeing whether the wishes of the Tibetan people might be respected. The EU Troika also inquired about the well-being of Gedun Choekyi Nyima and the Abbot of Tashilhunpo.
In their response, the Chinese authorities blamed the Dalai Lama for allegedly sabotaging the proper procedure for the selection, which involved the approval of the Central Government. They said that the boy was in very good shape physically and was leading a healthy, normal life. However, they were unfortunately not able to disclose his whereabouts or that of the Abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery, who it was said had been taken ill in May 1995 en route from Beijing to Tibet and was still hospitalised.
The EU Troika also raised the issue with the Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Li Zhaoxing.
The responses from the Chinese authorities can hardly be considered satisfactory. Ireland, with her EU partners, will continue to follow this matter closely and will seek to ensure that the Chinese authorities are kept fully aware of our concerns.