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KATHMANDU, April 9, 2004�Chinese authorities in Tibet are conducting a systematic indoctrination campaign in a major monastery aimed at forcing Tibetan monks to accept a Panchen Lama chosen by Beijing, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Officials from the religious affairs department and other sections of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) government have been paying twice-weekly visits to the Tashi Lhunpo monastery--the monastery of the teenaged Panchen Lama they hope to suppress--to conduct �study sessions,� Tibetan sources told RFA�s Tibetan service.

Chinese officials in the TAR, contacted by telephone, said they were unaware of any such efforts in the Tashi Lhunpo monastery.

�The monks are under so much pressure to recognize the Chinese Panchen Lama,� one source said. �The Chinese government started its re-education program for monks to recognize the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama by holding education sessions. The first session began in 1998 and lasted for four and a half months.�

�Since then, the study sessions have continued twice a week,� the source said, adding that government officials ran the sessions in person from 3-5 p.m. at the monastery. �The Chinese government is asking the monks to recognize their candidate as the real reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, and it is trying to convince the monks they followed all of the proper procedures [for selecting their Panchen Lama],� he said.

The Chinese-selected Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu, is rarely seen in public and is closely guarded by the Chinese government. Beijing claims to have followed the proper procedures for selecting its Panchen Lama--by putting the candidates� names into a golden urn.

The Dalai Lama-appointed Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who has been under virtual house arrest since 1995 when he was six years old, recently was reported by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to be leading a �happy, normal� life in China.

The Tibetan government-in-exile says it found the boy following a search of several years, using a variety of divination procedures, and that his reincarnation as Gendun Choekyi Nyima was confirmed by several oracles.

According to the government-in-exile�s Web site, when the boy was first able to speak he said, �I am the Panchen, my monastery is Tashi Lhunpo. I sit on a high throne. My monasteries are in Tsang, in Lhasa, and in China.�

The appointment of the Panchen Lama is of great significance to Tibetan Buddhists because he typically leads the search for the reincarnated Dalai Lama.

The Panchen Lama is Tibetan Buddhism�s second most prominent figure, after the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government insists insist that Gyaltsen Norbu, the boy it selected in 1995, is the Panchen Lama�s 11th reincarnation.

Gyaltsen Norbu made his second highly orchestrated visit to Tibetan areas in August last year, and his public appearances were marked by a heavy security. Most Tibetan Buddhists recognize Gendun Choekyi Nyima as the Panchen Lama instead.

According to the 2003 State Department report on human rights around the world, Chinese officials last year �acknowledged that monks and nuns continued to undergo mandatory political education or �patriotic education� on a regular basis at their religious sites. Training sessions were aimed at enforcing compliance with government regulations, and either cowing or weeding out monks and nuns who refused to follow Party directives and who remained sympathetic to the Dalai Lama.�

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