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The Plight of the 11th Panchen Lama and China’s Effort to Control the Tibetan Buddhist System of Reincarnation.  

Date: TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 2023
Time: 9:30 am (Washington, DC). 2:30 pm (London). 7:00 pm (New Delhi)
Event Type: Virtual (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter)

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, turns 34 years old on April 25, 2023. He has already spent 28 years of his life in captivity and has not been seen in public since May 17, 1995. Where is the Panchen Lama? What can be done to draw greater attention to his plight and ensure his freedom? Chinese authorities have imposed regulations limiting the recognition of reincarnate lamas and specifying reincarnations may not be recognized without state approval and must be born within China’s borders. How can supporters of religious freedom in Tibet counter the PRC and CCP’s increasing efforts to co-opt the Tibetan Buddhist system of reincarnation?


Bob Thurman
Scholar and Author
Lobsang Sangay
Former President (Sikyong), CTA
Garnett Genuis
Member of Parliament, Canada
Rajiv Mehrotra
Managing Trustee, Foundation for Universal Responsibility
Zeekgyab Tulku (Video Message)
Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Nury Turkel (video Massage)
Chair, US Commission on International Religious Freedom
Nangsel Dewa
Relative of Chadrel Rinpoche and Student Activist
Kelsang D. Aukatsang (President, Asia Freedom Institute)
Sakina Batt (Host, Freedom Hour, AFI)

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Kelsang Aukatsang

Kelsang Aukatsang (Kaydor) is the Founding President of the Asia Freedom Institute and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub. Kaydor has held various senior leadership positions in the Central Tibetan Administration including the Washington, DC representative for the Dalai Lama, Special Advisor to the President (Sikyong) of the Central Tibetan Administration, and the Chief Resilience Officer of the CTA. He was a candidate in the 2021 Tibetan presidential (Sikyong) elections. He has a Master’s in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Medford, USA, and a Bachelor’s in English literature from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.

Sakina Batt

Sakina Batt is a producer at Meeting Point, a leading audio visual production house and buying agency in Nepal. She directs promotional videos, does voice overs, writes scripts and copywriting for the videos in Meeting Point. Sakina worked for Tibet TV at the Central Tibetan Administration in India for four years (2017-2021) where she served as a news presenter and an interview host. She also made short documentaries for the channel, wrote scripts, conducted research, edited videos and anchored the show In Conversation with Tibet TV. Sakina has a Masters in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and a bachelors from Delhi University.

Garnett Genuis

Garnett Genuis is a Canadian politician who has served as the member of Parliament for the riding of Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan (in Alberta) since 2015. He is currently a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Immigration Committee. Genuis has been active on many high-profile domestic and international human rights issues. His interest in human rights was shaped by the experience of his grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. Genuis is also a passionate advocate for free speech, for increased efforts to combat violence against women, and for Canadian energy. Genuis has been a strong supporter of human rights and religious freedom in Tibet and has met with the Dalai Lama.

Rajiv Mehrotra

Rajiv Mehrotra is the founder and honorary managing trustee of Foundation for Universal Responsibility and. He has been a student of His Holiness for forty years. Raiv was educated at St Stephen’s College and the Universities of Oxford and Columbia. He has authored nine books that have been published in more than 50 editions and languages. He is also an independent documentary filmmaker, commissioning editor and producer and  has won numerous awards. He also serves as the Managing Trustee of The Public Service Broadcasting Trust in India.

Lobsang Sangay

Lobsang Sangay is a Tibetan political leader and scholar and served as the Sikyong (President) of the Tibetan Central Administration, the Tibetan government-in-exile, from 2011 to 2021. Sangay received a Master of Laws degree and a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from the Harvard Law School. He also served as a Senior Fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School through 2011. Lobsang is an expert on Tibet, China and  international human rights law and has given lectures around the world and has been consulted by numerous media outlets.

Bob Thurman

Bob Thurman is the first Westerner Tibetan Buddhist monk ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics and culture, Bob was named by The New York Times the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism, and was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri Award in 2020, for his help in recovering India’s ancient Buddhist heritage. Bob served as the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University for 30 years, until 2020. He is also the founder and president of Tibet House US, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan culture.

Zeekgyab Tulku

Venerable Zeekgyab Tulku is the Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Southern India. In 1986, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognized him as the 5th reincarnation of Kachen Lobsang Thupten Nyendak Namgyal (4th Zeekgyab Tulku). He completed his Geshe (Doctoral) degree in 2009 from Gaden Jangtse Monastic University and in 2010 completed his postdoctoral program Kachen at Tashi Lhundup Monastery. He has been teaching at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery since 2011. In late 2018 he was appointed the Abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and enthroned on February 11, 2019.

Nury Turkel

Nury Turkel is Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom after being appointed as a Commissioner by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in May 2020. He has testified before the US Congress, speaking about Uyghur internment camps and advocating a legislative response to China’s atrocities. His policy recommendations have been incorporated into US law and pending bills relating to Uyghurs and China. He is a senior fellow at Washington think tank, the Hudson Institute, where he works on US foreign policy and national security issues.