SFT’s Statement on the Passing of Adam Yauch

Adam Yauch, the co-founder of Beastie Boys and a longtime Tibet activist has passed away at age 47.

All of us at Students for a Free Tibet are deeply saddened to hear of Adam Yauch’s passing. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family. As the co-founder of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, Adam played a vital role in building the grassroots global solidarity movement for human rights and freedom in Tibet. The concerts inspired countless young people to learn about Tibet and become engaged in the issue, and many of them went on to join and become leaders in Students for a Free Tibet, helping build the worldwide youth and activist network we are today. Adam’s longtime support for Students for a Free Tibet’s actions and campaigns has enabled us to draw critical attention to the ongoing crisis in Tibet and create pressure on China to end the occupation. His legacy as a brilliant musician and dedicated Tibet activist will live on.

- Students for a Free Tibet Staff and Board of Directors

Video of Adam Yauch discussing his work his motivation for co-founding the Tibetan Freedom Concerts.

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:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/450310 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.



Rare Footage of Tibetan Nun’s Self-Immolation Smuggled out of Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet

For Immediate Release
November 21, 2011

Tenzin Jigdal, Program Director – India, +91 9736 660 451
Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director, +1 646-724-0748
Kate Woznow, Deputy Director, +1 917-601-0069

***Compilation of footage can be viewed here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6955112/Tawu%20Footage.mp4
High resolution footage can be downloaded here:  http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6955112/Tawu%20Footage.dv

Rare Footage of Tibetan Nun’s Self-Immolation Smuggled out of Tibet
10,000 Tibetans converge in Tawu for funeral, Chinese Forces Seen Entering Monastery

Dharamsala/New York – The most comprehensive footage of protests in Tibet this year, including shocking images of Palden

10,000 Tibetans join a candlelight vigil for Palden Choetso

Choetso, a 35-year-old nun from Geden Choeling Nunnery in Tawu, eastern Tibet, who died after lighting herself on fire on November 3, has been obtained from sources in Tibet. One video shows Palden Choetso standing upright as flames engulf her body. Additional footage shows Tibetans’ response to the self-immolation, including nuns protesting and chanting “Freedom to Tibet”; thousands of Tibetans at a candlelight vigil early on the morning of her funeral; and Chinese security forces converging on Nyitso Monastery. In the past eight months, 11 Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in an unprecedented wave of protest against China’s escalating clampdown in eastern Tibet.

“This footage confirms reports that 10,000 Tibetans gathered at Tawu’s Nyitso monastery in a mass outpouring of support and prayers for Palden Choetso. Her ultimate act of nonviolent protest galvanized the entire community to openly and publicly offer their respects and solidarity in spite of China’s military clampdown in the region,” said Tawu Lobsang Jinpa, a former political prisoner from Tawu who escaped to India last February. “In Tawu, the crackdown continues although many Chinese soldiers are patrolling the town in civilian clothes to stop the world from seeing these images. Surveillance cameras have been installed around the monastery to monitor the monks’ every move.”

“This is an extremely difficult time for Tibetans everywhere. This footage shows not only the desperation but also the determination of Tibetans to fight for their freedom at any cost. We fear the situation will continue to escalate and more Tibetan lives will be lost if the Chinese government does not lift its repressive measures and commit to a just and lasting resolution to this spiraling crisis in Tibet,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet.

Tibetan sources report that following her self-immolation, Palden Choetso’s body was taken to Nyitso Monastery. Her funeral was held early in the morning on November 6th. Tawu town is located in Kardze prefecture of the Tibetan province of Kham (annexed by China into Sichuan and Yunnan provinces after 1965), an area long known for actively resisting Chinese rule. Following the widespread protests in Tibet in 2008, Chinese forces have been stationed in and around Tawu town.

“We urge world leaders to respond to the crisis in Tawu immediately with bold multilateral pressure on the Chinese government. The Tibetans in these videos have risked everything to have their voices heard. Their actions must be a wakeup call that China’s repression will only stop if the world intervenes now,” said Tenzin Jigdal, Program Director of Students for a Free Tibet India.


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: http://benefitevents.com/auctions/sft2010/

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.

A Rare Video of Devotion & Protest Surfaces from Tibet.

This powerful video recently received from Tibet shows a dramatic scene from early 2006 in Machu County in Amdo, eastern Tibet. Thousands of Tibetans, mostly nomads can be seen making religious offerings for the protection of wildlife, praying for the Dalai Lama’s long life, and jubilantly discarding animal pelts into a massive bonfire while screaming “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “Victory to Tibet!”

The burning of animal fur, some of which had the monetary value equivalent to a car, was carried out in response to a statement by the Dalai Lama in which he said he felt “ashamed” when he saw Tibetans wearing the pelts of endangered animals such as tigers or leopards.

Within days of the Dalai Lama’s appeal, tens of thousands of Tibetans from across Tibet held massive gatherings where animal skin hats, shirts and Chubas were thrown into large bonfires.

For background information on the 2006 fur burning campaign and analysis on how wearing exotic pelts is not part of traditional Tibetan culture, read “Burning the animal skin, revolution sparked in Tibet.”

Since 2006, Tibetans in Tibet have consistently shunned the practice of wearing clothing decorated with furs. In many cases Tibetans are ordered to wear expensive furs during traditional festivals to provide tourists with an image of Tibetan culture that conforms to Chinese stereotypes. In a dramatic assertion of Tibetan identity, this state sponsored re-invention of Tibetan culture has been rejected by Tibetans.

Many Tibetans across Tibet are engaging in a self-reliance movement by taking concrete, sustainable actions as part of Tibet’s Lhakar or “White Wednesday” movement.

For more on Tibet’s Lhakar movement, go to:http://lhakar.org

Tawu Before We Knew Tsewang Norbu

Tsewang Norbu’s last words were “we Tibetan people want freedom.”

For those of us in the Tibet movement, it may be months or years before we login to Facebook without seeing images of Tsewang Norbu. On August 15th, 2011, when 29-year-old monk Tsewang Norbu doused himself in petrol, then in an inconceivable act of sacrifice and courage, lit himself ablaze in protest, our hearts sank with sadness.

To understand what would bring a Buddhist monk to preform such an extreme act of bravery and desperation, we must look at the environment Tsewang Norbu lived in before his tragic self-immolation.

Tawu County sits in the hills of Kham, Eastern Tibet. It has been described as a beautiful mountainous valley where people have no greater devotion then that for the Dalai Lama. Tsewang Norbu knew a different Tawu.

In late 2008 I briefly visited Tawu. On one occasion a young monk came to me and asked where I had learned Tibetan. Upon hearing that I had learned in India, he clasped his hands and quietly whispered “Dalai Lama, we Tibetans want him to return.”

A relatively small County, the police presence in Tawu is overwhelming. There are five prison/detention centers in Tawu. In the months before Tsewang Norbu self-immolated, tanks patrolled the streets, police ordered locals to present their identification cards as they walked through the market, and trucks of Chinese soldiers road up and down Tawu’s streets. For Tsewang Norbu, the situation was unbearable.

These photos taken in Tawu before August 15th show the Tawu which Tsewang Norbu knew.

Only a month before Tsewang Norbu’s brave act, thousands of Tibetans in Tawu defied orders from Chinese officials and military personal to not celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Shown in these dramatic photos, nuns from a local nunnery led thousands of Tibetans up into the hills of Tawu past the view of the military. The Tibetans made sangsol offerings, threw tsampa in air, and sang songs to celebrate.

As they descended back into the city, they were confronted by Chinese police. It is not clear what happened next.

Unfortunately, Norbu’s act did not come as a shock to us. Only Six-months earlier Tsewang Norbu’s death, Phuntsok Jarutsang set himself on fire in protest. One year before Phuntsok, Tapey, another monk from Nagaba also immolated. The desperation felt by these monks and the conditions which produced their unbelievable acts must end.

Without any doubt, the acts of Tsewang Norbu, Phuntsok Jarutsang and Tapey will be committed to the pages of Tibetan history. I only hope their brave and inconceivable acts of protest will be the final ones before their chapter is closed and Tibet is free.