The Panchen Lama is the highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama in the Gelugpa (Dge-lugs-pa) lineage of Tibetan Buddhism (this lineage controlled western Tibet from the 16th century until the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion). The present (11th) incarnation of the Panchen Lama is a matter of controversy: the People's Republic of China asserts it is Gyancain Norbu, while the 14th Dalai Lama asserted it was Gedhun Choekyi Nyima on May 14, 1995. The latter vanished from public eye shortly after being named, aged six. Chinese authorities stated that Gedhun had been taken into protective custody from those that would spirit him into exile and is now safe. Tibetans and human rights groups continue to campaign for his release.
April 25, 2012 was the 23rd birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, this was the 17th birthday he spent in captivity.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyimawas was just 6 years old when he was recognized by HH Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama.
Just after this recognition of the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, and his family were taken into custody by the Chinese authorities and he has never seen since.