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Every participant at an international human rights conference in June 1998 received a small pamphlet published by Tibetan supporters of Tibetan Buddhism's highest-ranking figure, the Dalai Lama. Entitled "The World's Youngest Political Prisoner," the pamphlet makes a plea for support for a young boy, now nine years old, who the Chinese government has allegedly kidnapped and detained. The Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile for forty years, claims the boy is the eleventh reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second holiest individual in Tibetan Buddhism. This battle over the identification of the reincarnation of a holy man is an intriguing and egregious illustration of the manipulation of religion for political ends.

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59 The Humanist 2