photo by Kiino Villand ©1996

Earlier today, Adam Yauch, founding member of the Beastie Boys passed away after a three year fight against cancer.   Adam was a good friend of mine, and one of my oldest friends in New York. But more than being a friend, he was an inspiration. I am so privileged to have known him.

Adam is well known for his many talents — musician, film-maker, snowboarder and world champion alpen horn blower — but he was as generous as he was creative.  It’s well known that Adam cared deeply about seeing a Free and Independent Tibet in his lifetime, and he used every resource available to make this dream a reality. Through his efforts, he raised millions of dollars for the Beasite Boys’ charity the Milarepa Fund, but he also lobbied congress in their DC offices, folded pamphlets and licked envelopes, got arrested at demonstrations at the Chinese Consulate, made food for volunteers, called business leaders and talked to them about human rights — heck, he even slept on the floor of my college dorm room so that he could attend a Students for a Free Tibet conference that I organized at my school (this was a long, long time ago).  But for Adam, Tibet was just the beginning.  He believed that  the act of freeing Tibet would have a ripple effect around the world, and encourage freedom everywhere.  Most importantly, he believed that the key to doing this was through non-violence, and that is what so deeply moved him to give so much of his time, energy and talent to supporting the cause.

After 911, New Yorkers were lost, overwhelmed and grieving.  Adam was the first person to organize a benefit concert. Rather than focus on the tragedy of what happened, which was too vast for us all to fully comprehend, he titled his event “New Yorkers Against Violence.”   Somehow, Adam (and Mike D and Adam Horovitz) knew that the message had to be global, and that it had to address the problem of violence, rather than just be a reaction to the tragedy that was still unfolding in our city.  Adam thought big, and he understood that all things are interconnected.  He was an old soul, and he clearly lived so passionately, creatively and compassionately, that he exhausted his body at far too young an age.

Although it’s hard to fathom that we won’t see him again, the mark he left on this world will have a lasting legacy.  For every musician he encouraged, for every artist he inspired, for every Tibetan he gave hope to, and for every person who shook their rump to his fat bass lines, we pay tribute to MCA.   Our deepest condolences go out to his incredible family, and all the friends who he has touched during his time with us.  On a personal note, I have to say, Adam, thank you for everything you did for me – all the kind words, generosity, encouragement, leadership, inspiration, and most importantly, the laughs.  You played a huge role in making me the person I am today, and I am forever grateful to you.

Now it’s time to honor his life by helping to make his dream come true.

***This is a guest post by Kurt Langer, SFT Board of Directors. The original post can be read here:

Stand Up & Deliver For Tibet

March 10 Tibet WIll Be Free

As we approach March 10th – Tibetan National Uprising Day - Students for a Free Tibet has been collecting signatures of people who are standing up for Tibet. Our goal is to have 50,000 signatures by March 10th and we’re almost there (over 45,681). If you haven’t signed the pledge yet, please do so now by clicking here.

To make sure the power of 50,000 people standing up for Tibet is heard, we are going to be delivering the petition to governments and local authorities around the world. We ask Tibet supporters to print out a copy of the pledge and deliver it to your local government offices – Mayor’s office, City Hall, Provincial/State Building, Parliament Building, Representatives’s office, etc.

While you’re doing your petition delivery action you can take inspiring photos in front of the government office and/or an iconic landmark in your town, city or country to show that people in your city join the 50,000 who are standing up for Tibet. Upload the photo to a photo service and share your best and favorites with us! Here are some creative ideas and helpful tips:

  • Line up members of your rally side by side and ask them to hold up letters and numbers to spell out “50,000 Say Enough! Stand Up for Tibet.” If you have more people, add “Global Intervention Now to Save Tibetan Lives.”
  • Using members of your rally, spell out with your bodies “Stand Up for Tibet.” If you have more people, try out “50,000 Say Enough! Stand Up for Tibet.” Check out the photo from Canada:
  • Always remember to contextualize your photos when you send them to us and include: Who, What, Where, When, & Why.

#Occupy Wall Street Statement of Solidarity with the Tibetan People & the #Tsampa Revolution


Statement of solidarity:

Over the past 53 years, the world has watched silently as the Tibetan people non-violently struggled against China’s colonial rule.

In the past year alone, we have witnessed barbaric acts of repression by Chinese security forces in Tibet.

Since March 2011, over twenty Buddhist monks, nuns, and laypeople have set fire to themselves in protest.

Their demands were clear – Some form of Political Independence for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. We have heard their cries.

Determined to break this silence, we send our strongest solidarity and lasting support to the people of Tibet in their continued non-violent struggle for freedom.

The systematic destruction of Tibet’s unique culture, economic marginalization of Tibetans, destructive mining and environmental degradation, “patriotic re-education” of dissidents, and the indiscriminate shooting of peaceful protesters is unacceptable. These acts are cruel and shameful. We share the anger of the Tibetan people and their desires for freedom. Indeed, we share the same principles of freedom, equality, and self-determination in our movement.

We especially recognize the courageous actions of Tibetan youths who risk their lives protesting for freedom. Across the globe, from Tiananmen Square to Tahrir Square, from Syria to Wall Street, youth has been the backbone of revolutions.

The passion and courage of Tibet’s new is an inspiration to young people across the globe.

We stand united with this ongoing Tibetan resistance movement that is now being called the “Tsampa Revolution”, named after the staple food of Tibet.

We express our collective grief for more than twenty Buddhist monks, nuns, and laypeople that set themselves on fire demanding freedom.

Because we are aware that grief alone does not bring about revolutionary change, we recognize March 10th, 2012,
the “53rd Tibetan National Uprising Day” and stand with our Tibetan brothers and sisters fighting for the right to live in peace and freedom like every other human being.

Sentence of consensus:

#OWS Stands in Solidarity with those engaged in the 53 Year Old Non-Violent Tsampa Revolution & Call on all #Occupy friends, allies & supporters alike to join their local March 10th Tibetan Uprising Anniversary Events to raise awareness about the marginalization of the Tibetan people.

Long Live Occupy & His Holiness the Dalai Lama!

Losar 2139: Victory for Tibet

Today is Losar, the first day of the Tibetan Lunar Year 2139.
Losar 2139: Victory to Tibet
Many people describe Losar, somewhat inadequately, as the Tibetan equivalent of the western New Year. But Losar is much more than just a marker between two separate years; it is a day steeped in religious rituals and spiritual symbolism. Losar for Tibetans is like several holidays wrapped into one; it delights children and adults alike, reunites families and renews friendships, reminding us of who we are as a people, and as a nation.

This Losar, however, will be a quiet one. From Lhasa to Lithang, Golok to Dharamsala, and Ngaba to New York, there will be no fireworks, no merrymaking, no exchange of gifts. For this is no ordinary time. In the past year, 22 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in the most pure and powerful expression of defiance to Chinese rule. The self-immolations in Tibet have shocked the world and galvanized the Tibet movement. Just last week, Dhamchoe Sangpo and Nangdrol self-immolated. Their demands were clear: freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama.

In an expression of national grief, Tibetans everywhere are foregoing festivities today to salute those who have given their lives for freedom this past year. Though we are aware that grief alone does not bring about revolutionary change, there is something undeniably powerful about this collective mourning because it is an act that we Tibetans control, a phenomenon that the Chinese government cannot stop.

In many parts of Tibet, Chinese authorities have been paying Tibetan families to celebrate Losar. In a perverse attempt to create a picture of normalcy, the authorities have been almost begging Tibetans to “have a good time” on Losar. Tibetans, by canceling the festivities and taking control over their own lives, are seizing power away from the state through this widespread act of civil disobedience.

Deciding how to mark Losar is perhaps the most poignant expression of the Tibetan people’s growing cultural and social sovereignty, the foundation upon which political freedom can be built. Our collective grief and spiritual reflection this Losar is an act of resilience, of defiance, and ultimately, of hope. As we pay tribute to those who have selflessly offered their lives to advance our cause, let us remember what they died for, and recommit ourselves to the goal of a free Tibet.

This Losar, we urge you to honor the Tibetan heroes of 2138 by taking a pledge of resistance for Tibet. Here are some examples of the pledges Tibetans and our supporters are making today:

  • I pledge to update my MP or Congressperson every week about Tibet.
  • I pledge to boycott Made-in-China products.
  • I pledge to recruit a new member to the Tibetan Freedom Movement every month.
  • I pledge to join a Tibet rally or vigil at least once a month.
  • I pledge to join Rangzen Circle to sustain SFT’s work for Tibetan freedom.

To make your pledge, please visit: Here you can read more about how Tibetans are exercising control over their social and cultural lives and building a vibrant self-reliance, non-cooperation movement that is starting to shake the very foundations of China’s colonial rule in Tibet.

May the Tibetan Water Dragon Year 2139 bring us closer to a free and independent Tibet.

Bho Gyalo. Victory to Tibet.

Tendor signature


P.S. Please make your pledge of resistance on Losar at:

BREAKING: Tibet Activists Unfurl Banner from Arlington Bridge to Protest Visit of China’s Future President

For Immediate Release
February 13, 2012

High resolution photos can be downloaded here: 1/Tibet%20DC%20Action%20Feb% 2013/DSC_0111.JPG

High resolution video available here.

Photos also available on SFT’s Flickr account here.

Contact: Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director, Students for a Free Tibet, +1 917 727-6239
Khenrab Palden, General Secretary, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of New York/New Jersey, +1 646 918-4023
Kate Woznow, Deputy Director, Students for a Free Tibet, +1 917 300-9491

Tibet Activists Unfurl Banner from Arlington Memorial Bridge to Protest Visit of China’s Future President
Dramatic climbing action in U.S. capital sends defiant message of freedom to Fifth Generation of Chinese leaders

Washington – Tibet activists welcomed China’s future President, Xi Jinping, to the U.S. capital by hanging a massive banner which stated, “Xi Jinping: Tibet will be Free” on the landmark Arlington Memorial Bridge. Against the iconic American backdrop of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, two climbers - Bianca Bockman (age 31) of Hoboken, New Jersey and Tenzin Jigme (age 32) of Vienna, Virginia - rappelled over the edge of the bridge and unfurled the 52′ x 20′ foot protest banner. They were later arrested along with Matthew Zaccarino (age 32) of Milford, Massachusetts and Tenzin Yangsel (age 25) of Queens, New York. The action kicked off a day-long festival of protest in the capital by hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters including a rally and march from the Chinese Embassy to the White House, a mass Buddhist prayer offering, life-size puppets, solidarity rallies, and a candlelight vigil.

“As a Tibetan-American born in Tibet, I have to speak out at this critical moment when Xi Jinping and the Chinese government have literally declared war against my people and are shooting peaceful protesters in the streets of Tibet,” said Tenzin Jigme, of the International Tibet Network. “Xi Jinping has come here seeking American friendship and approval, and President Obama, as the leader of the greatest democracy in the world, has the power to influence Xi and stop this bloody crackdown.”

Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit comes as reports that Losang Gyatso, age 19, self-immolated in Ngaba town in eastern Tibet at 2:30pm Beijing Standard Time today. Twenty-four Tibetans have now set fire to themselves in Tibet since 2009, 11 since January 2012, in an unprecedented show of defiance to Chinese rule. In an effort to stop news of the unrest reaching the world after security forces opened fire on protesters calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government has sealed Tibet off to foreigners and journalists.

“Xi Jinping is here representing a regime that is right now engaged in an-all out vicious assault on the Tibetan people, while at the same time directly supporting the Syrian dictatorship in massacring its own people,” said Bianca Bockman, member of Students for a Free Tibet. “Is Xi really the person that we want our President to be on a date with on Valentine’s day? I don’t think so. Americans care most about freedom, democracy and basic human rights.”

“I believe that all Americans would want to see freedom and independence for Tibetans in Tibet, for Syrians in Syria,” said Tenzin Yangsel, of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of New York and New Jersey. “Xi Jinping is a representative of a murderous authoritarian dictatorship, and is in fact the last person President Obama should entertain at the White House on Valentine’s Day.”

A joint rally in support of freedom and democracy will be held outside the White House tomorrow by a coalition of Tibetan, Chinese, Uyghur, Taiwanese and human rights groups as Xi Jinping and President Obama meet.



Images that Will Shock the World

In my citizen journalism workshop, I often start by asking if anyone can think of powerful images which changed the world. More often than not participants mention the image of Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc.

In 1963, when the international community saw photos of Thich Quang Duc sitting cross-legged while engulfed in flames, global consciousness shifted to Vietnam. Today, his protest is widely credited as a catalyst to the fall of the Diệm regime in Vietnam.

Similarly, when Tunisians saw the shaky footage of Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation this year in Tunisia, his countrymen took to the streets in what became the Tunisian Revolution and sparked the beginnings of the Arab Spring.

Our generation’s powerful images may not come in high resolution but the pixelated cell phone photos, screenshots from internet chat applications, and shaky mobile video are no less historic and no less powerful.

It is our responsibility to view them, to glimpse at the brutal repression and desperate measures Tibetans inside Tibet are taking as their voices are silenced. However difficult it may be to gaze upon the images of the twelve monks and nuns who have self-immolated since 2009, it can’t compare to the unimaginable hardships that those individuals have endured to bring them to commit such shocking acts.

If we can do anything, we can share their stories. Please talk about them, write about them, blog about them, tweet about them, post their images on Facebook and Twitter. We cannot let the desperate sacrifices of Tibetans inside Tibet be forgotten.

The following is a collection of the known images of self-immolation which have been bravely smuggled out of Tibet.

For background information on these desperate acts please read Tendor’s Tibetans have reached breaking point, world must step in.


For Immediate Release
November 4, 2011

Migmar Dhakyel: Tibetan Youth Association in Europe +33 762 068 590
Norzin Dotschung, Tibetan Youth Association in Europe +41 788 247 270
Pema Yoko, Students for a Free Tibet, +44 7949 104 021


Nice – This morning 8 pro-Tibet activists from Switzerland, Germany and the UK, unfurled a huge 12 x 4.5 metre banner on the Tower Bellanda reading “ENOUGH!” with Tibetan flags lining the bottom. The action – the third in a series of pro-Tibet demonstrations at the G20 Summit ­– is part of a global campaign to pressure the Chinese government to withdraw troops from Tibet and to end the military occupation. 16 Tibetans and their supporters have been detained over the past three days in Cannes for pro-Tibet actions. A large rally with Tibetans from across Europe will also take place today from 10am to 1pm at the Place d’Ile de Beaute.

“Tibetans and our supporters from around the world are here at the G20 Summit to say Enough is Enough! Enough to China’s violent and brutal repression in Tibet, and enough to the failure of our world leaders to hold the Chinese government accountable for its atrocities in Tibet,” said Migmar Dhakyel, a 20-year old Tibetan woman with the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe.

Yesterday, a 35 year-old nun, Palden Choetso, died after she lit herself on fire in Tawu, eastern Tibet. She was calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for Tibetan independence. Eleven Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet since March this year; 9 since September 26th. At least six have died, including two nuns. Chinese authorities have responded by pouring security personnel into Tibet.

“Yesterday’s desperate act by a Tibetan nun to call for the return of the Dalai Lama is a cry for help and a clear sign that Tibetans have been pushed to the brink under China’s merciless rule,” said Norzin Dotschung, President of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe. “Strong diplomatic action now to pressure China to stop the crackdown in Tibet will help save Tibetan lives.”

Tibet campaigners around the world have launched ‘Enough! Campaign for Global Intervention to Save Tibetan Lives’, which has garnered support from celebrities, politicians and other prominent individuals including Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actor Richard Gere and the musicians of Radiohead. They have joined over 24,000 others in calling for multilateral pressure on Hu Jintao to resolve the growing crisis in Tibet.

“It is time for the G20′s leaders to stand up and recognize that by acting collectively, courageously, and with principle, they can help to resolve one of the world’s longest-standing injustices – China’s occupation of Tibet.” said Pema Yoko, Students for a Free Tibet UK’s National Director.

Art for Tibet III: Online Auction Extended

On October 14th, more than 50 acclaimed artists exhibited their work together in support of the Tibetan freedom struggle. The 3rd annual Art for Tibet show featured top contemporary Tibetan and international artists, including Shepard Fairey, Pema Rinzin, Richard Gere, Ryan McGinness, Tenzing Rigdol, Swoon, Gonkar Gyatso, The Sucklord (star of Bravo Network’s “Work of Art” Season 2) and many more.


While we’re sad that it’s over, we are happy to announce that the online auction has been extended until October 24th, where new lots are now listed with remaining art works, whose reserves have been lowered. To browse and bid online, visit:

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend the incredible evening, and to the organizing committee who worked tirelessly to make it all happen. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year at Art for Tibet IV.