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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 7732

Senator Hanson-Young asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 8 September 2009:

With reference to Gedun Choekyi Nyima who was detained by Chinese authorities on 17 May 1995, aged six, after being recognised by the Dalai Lama as the eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet:

(1)   What efforts has the Australian Government made to obtain information on the health and whereabouts of Gedun Choekyi Nyima since the former Minister for Foreign Affairs reported to the House of Representatives on 8 February 2005.

(2)   Has the Government obtained any new information on the health and location of Gedun Choekyi Nyima; if so, what is the information and has it been independently verified; if not, what steps will the Government take to obtain that information.

Senator Faulkner (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The Australian Government has raised the case of Gedun Choekyi Nyima in the context of the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 Australia-China Human Rights Dialogues.

(2)   In all instances the Australian Government expressed concern as to his safety; pressed China to allow an independent observer to visit him and confirm his wellbeing; and sought information on his religious education. In 2009, we also pointed out that Gedun Choekyi Nyima turned 18 years old on 25 May 2007 and was now legally an adult. In each case, the Chinese responded that Gedun Choekyi Nyima was living a normal life and was doing well academically, but his family had asked that they be left alone. Under these circumstances, Australian officials have been unable to visit him or obtain independently verified information.