Sun Behind the Clouds: West Coast Screenings

30918_397695582581_163986862581_4329110_453284_nTHE SUN BEHIND THE CLOUDS
Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom
a film by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam

This revolutionary new film, featuring interviews with SFT’s former Executive Director Lhadon Tethong, addresses the core issues facing the future direction of the Tibet movement in a refreshingly open and direct way.

“This is one of the most pertinent and revolutionary films on Tibet today. While many hundreds of introductory films on Tibet have been made, this is the first to directly address the complexity and nuance of the Tibetan freedom movement and the core issue of independence from the Tibetan perspective.” – Tenzin Dorjee, SFT Executive Director


WHEN: Friday, June 18 – Thursday, June 24
WHERE: Opera Plaza Cinema [601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102]
SCREENINGS: 2:30pm, 4:45pm, 7:00pm
Filmmakers in person on Friday, June 18 @ 7:00pm & Sunday, June 20 @ 2:30pm
Tel: 415. 267. 4893

WHEN: Friday, June 18 – Thursday, June 24
WHERE: Shattuck Cinemas [ 2230 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704]
SCREENINGS: June 18 – June 20: 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 7:15pm, 9:30pm
June 21 – June 24: 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 7:15pm, 9:30pm
Filmmakers in person on Saturday, June 19 @ 7:15pm & Sunday, June 20 @ 1:00pm
Tel: 510. 464. 5980

WHEN: Friday, June 25 – Thursday, July 1
WHERE: Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex [1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401]
SCREENINGS: 1:00pm, 3:10pm, 5:20pm, 7:30pm, 9:50pm
Filmmakers in person on Friday, June 25 @ 7:30pm, Saturday, June 26 @ 7:30pm & Sunday, June 27 @ 1:00pm
Tel: 310. 478. 3836

More on the Film


SFT Press Release: Tibet Advocates Urge Secretary Clinton to Raise Tibet as a Core Issue at US-China Dialogue; Boycott Tibet Pavilion at Shanghai Expo


For Immediate Release
May 21st, 2010

Tenzin Dorjee, +1 646-724-0748
Kate Woznow, +1 917-601-0069


New York – As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins a week-long trip in Asia, Tibet advocates are calling on her to raise Tibet as a core issue at the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue taking place in Beijing from May 24-25. Advocates are also urging her to avoid the controversial Tibet Pavilion during her visit to the Shanghai Expo tomorrow. Clinton’s China visit comes amidst reports of intensifying repression against Tibetan writers, bloggers, and anyone who dares to openly criticize or share information about Chinese government policies in occupied Tibet.

“We call on Secretary Clinton to raise Tibet as a core issue in US-China relations and to press for tangible results towards a just and lasting resolution for Tibet,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “The Obama administration must not shy away from publicly and vigorously raising Tibet and freedom of expression at these meetings. The U.S. will only achieve its foreign policy objectives with China when it stands firm on core American interests.

“Tibet has become the barometer for this administration’s commitment to engaging China on human rights issues and we urge Secretary Clinton to go beyond the rhetoric by pressing for a results-driven discussion on Tibet at this dialogue,” added Dorjee.

In the lead up to the meetings in Beijing, Clinton will make a stop in Shanghai where she will visit the Shanghai Expo. Tibet advocacy groups worldwide are calling on government leaders to refuse to visit China’s controversial “Heavenly Tibet” pavilion, which attempts to mislead the world about the true situation inside Tibet.

“The ‘Heavenly Tibet’ pavilion is designed to hide the grim reality of China’s military rule in Tibet and is an insult to Tibetans and their supporters everywhere. In fact, the Dalai Lama – the legitimate representative of the Tibetan people – has called Tibet under Chinese rule a ‘hell on earth’,” said Kate Woznow, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “For secretary Clinton to visit the Tibet pavilion, especially at a time when Chinese officials are imprisoning Tibetans for doing nothing more than critiquing Chinese policies in Tibet, would send the wrong message about the Obama Administration’s commitment to human rights.”

Since protests swept across Tibet in March 2008, dozens of Tibetan writers, bloggers, and educators have been arrested, along with those who have shared information about China’s repression with the outside word. The arrest of leading Tibetan intellectual Tagyal (who goes by pen name Shogdung) and the transfer of imprisoned filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen to a Chinese labor camp are recent examples of the lengths to which China goes to silence Tibetan voices.


TAKE ACTION: Chinese Police Open Fire On Tibetans Over Cement Factory Protest

Ocement_protest_may2010n Saturday, May 15th, Chinese police opened fire on a group of Tibetans outside a cement factory in Madang Township, Labrang County, Amdo in eastern Tibet (Ch: Xiahe, Gansu province). At least 15 people were injured from gun wounds or beatings by the police. Tibetans in the area have been campaigning to stop the pollution caused by the factory, which, sources say, spews out so much dust that it is “difficult to open one’s eyes.”

TAKE ACTION: Send a letter to the Chinese authorities condemning this violent attack:

Call on the Chinese government to close the factory until the demands of the local Tibetans have been met. (We will also fax your letter to the county and provincial government offices).

Please also call the Xiahe County People’s Government Office to register your concern over this violent attack by Chinese police: +86 941 712 1818 (Please note: China is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time).

Read the International Campaign for Tibet’s report (in English):
Read the Tibet Times report (in Tibetan):

This incident is part of a growing crackdown by Chinese authorities against Tibetans advocating for environmental protection. Just last week, Radio Free Asia reported that five Tibetans were injured when police moved in to stop protests against mine operations in Markham, another part of eastern Tibet. Learn more:

Help ensure the Chinese government hears from people worldwide. Global pressure does make a difference and helps protect Tibetans inside Tibet who are risking everything to preserve their fragile homeland:

Thank you for all that you do for Tibet,

Tendor, Kate, TenDolkar, Schuyler, Mary Kate, Annie and the rest of the SFT HQ crew


1) Call the Xiahe County People’s Government Office and register your concern over this violent attack against Tibetans: +86 941 712 1818 (please note: China is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time). You can also call the Gansu Provincial Government at: +86 931 460 9000

2) Print & fax a letter to the Gansu Provincial Government. Contact information can be found here.

Sample letter to the Chinese authorities:

Dear Secretary Lu Hao,

I am outraged to hear that Chinese police opened fire on unarmed Tibetans in Madang Township, Labrang County in Amdo, eastern Tibet (Ch: Xiahe, Gansu province) who were protesting pollution caused by the Amdo Cement Factory. I understand that 15 people were injured by the attack.

Tibetans in Madang have petitioned the Chinese government to stop the company from polluting the local environment, the preservation of which is crucial to their livelihood. The factory is also damaging religious sites in the area.

Instead of addressing these legitimate concerns, Chinese authorities sent armed police into the area who then opened fire on the Tibetans.

I join people worldwide in condemning this violent assault against peaceful protesters. This is a blatant violation of Chinese law and shows the extent to which Chinese authorities will go to silence Tibetans who dare protest the degradation of Tibet’s environment caused by Chinese or other foreign owned companies.

I call on you to immediately shut down the Amdo Cement Factory until the company agrees to address the concerns of the Tibetans in Madang Township and to order an investigation into the shooting incident. I further call on you to ensure those injured receive medical treatment and that no Tibetan is detained or harassed as a result of this incident. I will continue to monitor this situation closely and urge my elected representatives to do the same.


Tibetan Freedom Writers & China’s Crackdown

Tagyal or "Shogdung", Tibetan writer arrested on April 24th

Tagyal or "Shogdung", Tibetan writer arrested on April 23th

On Friday April 23rd, 2010, well known Tibetan writer and intellectual, Tagyal (pen name Shogdung ཞོགས་དུང་), was arrested in Xining.

Shogdung’s arrest is clearly part of a larger trend by the Chinese government to silence prominent Tibetan writers, artists and educators.  As in any society writers, and artists in Tibet have become the voice of the common person. China’s recent arrest of Shogdung demonstrates that despite China’s claims that it grants “freedom of expression” to all citizens, in Tibet today speaking freely, even on paper is a serious crime.

One friend of Shogdung wrote in a blog post on (now inaccessible) that the reason behind his arrest was,  publishing a book, Distinguishing Sky from Earth, in which he criticized the Chinese govenrment for it’s brutal crackdown on Tibetan protests in March 2008.

One Tibetan blogger also wrote that Shogdung may have been arrested for his participation is writing an open letter to the victims of Kyegundo earthquake, where he and 7 others criticized authorities for their ineffective and possibly “corrupt” rescue and relief operations.

For more information on Shogdung and to read the fully translated open letter visit: High Peaks Pure Earth.

As China continues to deny Tibetans their fundamental right of expression, Tibetan writers and artists have become very popular critics of the Chinese government, especially among Tibetan students. Despite China’s best efforts, Tibetan writers continue to defy the Chinese government by speaking out.

List of known Tibetan Writers in detention:


Heavenly Tibet? or Hell on Earth?

The Shanghai World Expo, which runs from May 1st to October 31st, is yet another multi-billion dollar propaganda spectacle. Through its “Heavenly Tibet” Pavilion, the Chinese government is trying to whitewash its human rights abuses in Tibet.


Heavenly Tibet? or Hell on Earth?

Just last year the Dalai Lama stated that 60 years of Chinese occupation have turned Tibet into “hell on earth.” Tibetans inside Tibet are risking everything to tell this truth to the world.

Spread the word and help shut down China’s propaganda pavilion:

1. Post & Share this image on your Facebook, blog, website, and other social networking sites.

2. Write to your government leaders urging them to speak out against the Tibet Pavilion and to refuse to visit it if they attend the Shanghai Expo. Click here for a sample letter.

Support Quake Victims’ Right to See the Dalai Lama

DalaiLama_EarthquakeQuote2 TAKE ACTION: Please honor the wishes of Tibetans in Kyegundo by urging your elected representatives to support a visit by the Dalai Lama to the earthquake zone. (Note: a sample letter is below).

If you are in the U.S., read the resolution passed on May 20th by the U.S Congress.

On Saturday, the Dalai Lama held a press conference in which he expressed his desire to visit Kyegundo to offer prayers and much needed support to the affected community. Watch the video. His statement comes a day after a heartfelt letter was sent from Tibetans in the quake zone to China’s leaders requesting the Dalai Lama be allowed to visit. Please read & share the translated letter.

The Tibetans in Kyegundo have the right to be with their beloved leader at this distressing time. Please join us in sending a clear message to the Chinese government that the global community honors this request.

Sample letter:

Find your representative in Canada
Find your representative in the European Union
Find your representative in the U.K.
Find your representative in India
Find your representative in Latin America

Dear [NAME],

I am writing to express my concern for the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Kyegundo in eastern Tibet (China: Jiegu or Yushu, Qinghai Province) on Wednesday, April 14th. According to media sources, over 2,000 people have been killed, more than 12,000 injured and 100,000 people are now homeless.In recent days, Tibetans from the earthquake zone sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao requesting them to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Kyegundo – where the population is more than 97% Tibetan. The Dalai Lama himself has expressed his desire to go there to offer prayers and provide support to those suffering.

As I am sure you are aware, Tibetans revere the Dalai Lama as their spiritual and political leader. In fact, the Dalai Lama himself was born in this part of eastern Tibet now called Qinghai province of China.

As the rightful leader of the Tibetan people, and one of the most respected global leaders of our time, the Dalai Lama has every right to be with his people in their hour of need. I ask that you raise this issue with your counterparts in the [INSERT YOUR COUNTRY NAME HERE] government, and do everything in your power to support the Dalai Lama’s desire to visit the earthquake zone.

Furthermore, please call on [your President, Prime Minister, Decision maker] to issue a statement of condolence to the Dalai Lama as the rightful leader of the Tibetan people affected by this terrible earthquake.



It’s almost been a week since a massive earthquake struck Kyegundo in Kham, eastern Tibet (Ch: Jiegu or Yushu). The official death toll has now reached 2,000 – though Tibetans from the area say the true number is much higher – with at least 195 people still missing and more than 12,000 injured. An estimated 100,000 people are now homeless.  Click here to support to the earthquake relief effort.

CNN_quake_HHDLMedia coverage from the quake zone clearly shows Tibetans expressing their devotion to the Dalai Lama and praying to him for support in their time of need. Click here to watch CNN footage of Tibetans picking through the rubble of their homes and respectfully touching photos of the Dalai Lama to their foreheads.

Click here to watch moving footage of a Tibetan woman singing a traditional prayer mantra and praying to the Dalai Lama to guide the souls of the dead as she watches the mass cremation of earthquake victims on Saturday.

You can also take action by sending a message of condolence to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile – the rightful representatives of the Tibetan people – through SFT’s website.

Voice of Tibet radio service has also set-up a hotline for people to send message of support into Tibet. Click here to learn more.

Given the long-standing suffering of the Tibetan people at the hands of the Chinese government, Tibetans are understandably distrustful of the Chinese state-controlled relief efforts. Read this in-depth article from the New York Times discussing the tensions in Kyegundo as Chinese leaders use the rescue efforts as an opportunity to forward their Tibet propaganda efforts.

Thank you for supporting the people of Kyegundo, and indeed all Tibetans,  at this distressing time.

UPDATE: Letter from Tibetans in quake zone requesting visit by the Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama's photo in earthquake stricken Kyegundo

Dalai Lama's photo in earthquake stricken Kyegundo

Please read & share this moving request from Tibetans in the earthquake zone:

Requesting His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to the Quake Area:

A letter from the victims of the Yushu Earthquake to President Hu and Premier Wen

(Boxun Beijing Time: 2010 April 16)

Dear President Hu and Premier Wen,

Wish you both good health. During the initial hours of the natural disaster, we appreciate your government’s immediate relief efforts through soldiers and all round support from different sections of the society and we, the victims of this calamity, thank you for the same.

But we are a deeply religious community having a strong faith in the teachings of Buddha. Since many generations, we have a deep faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Today, as we are suffering from a great physical and mental anguish, we really need His Holiness to visit the quake affected area to pray for the departed souls and to provide solace to the broken hearts. Today, we request you, president Hu and premier Wen, to find the compassion in your hearts and fulfill this desire of us quake victims. We, the quake victims numbering more than 10,000, implore you from our hearts to temporarily set aside your government’s political differences with the Dalai Lama and kindly consider our request.

With this invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we have no other objective apart from fulfilling our religious aspirations of praying for the departed souls and the survivors of the disaster.

In this hour of distress, His Holiness’ visit to offer prayers and condolences in person is the only way to heal our wounded hearts. There is no other better way.


Letter also posted in Tibetan at:

The Dalai Lama has also expressed his wish to visit the region:

Tibetan Prime Minister Samdhong Ripoche said this morning “If the external circumstances become favorable, there is no difficulty on the part of His Holiness’ aspirations and could make his visit to the affected areas at the soonest possible.”

Tibet Earthquake Update: More Ways You Can Help

Kyegundo  MonksThank you to everyone who has taken action to support the relief efforts in Kyegundo (spoken Jyekundo). It is heartbreaking to hear the news and watch footage from the quake zone and our thoughts and prayers remain with those in the region.

SFT has posted a list of organizations that work in the region and have set-up emergency relief funds:
You can find updates on the relief efforts here: and here:

We’re also working to educate the international community that the earthquake struck in Chinese-occupied Tibet (as opposed to “Western China” or “Qinghai province bordering Tibet”) and indeed, in a region with strong Tibetan resistance roots. Read SFT’s statement on the quake:

Ways that you can help:

1) Write a thank you note to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In her statement of condolences issued yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (a long-time Tibet supporter) acknowledges the impact of the quake on the people of China and Tibet.

Read her statement here:

You can send her a message here:

2) Call on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to acknowledge the Tibetan victims of the quake.

In glaring contrast to Pelosi’s statement, Secretary Clinton does not once mention Tibet or Tibetans in her brief statement issued yesterday. Instead she expresses her support for all the people of China:

Read SFT’s response here:

Help ensure she hears from Tibetans and Americans from across the country urging her to acknowledge that the earthquake took place in Tibet and its victims are overwhelmingly Tibetan. You can send her a message here:

3) Call out CNN for not once referring to Tibet in its quake coverage.

While most of the major news networks include some mention of the quake victims being Tibetan or refer to Yushu as a Tibetan area of China, we are shocked by CNN’s omission of any references to Tibet in its quake coverage. Watch Errol Barnnett’s coverage from CNN’s China Quake Desk:

Even CCTV, China’s state television network, recognizes Yushu as an overwhelmingly Tibetan area:

You can post comments directly to Errol on his Facebook page ( and by tweeting @errolcnn.

Please also send your comments to CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta:

4. Read and share Josh Schrei’s Huffington post article on the quake: “To Die with Dignity in your Own Land: Tibet, China, and the Politics of Disaster.” (Josh is a long-time Tibet activist and former SFT Board Chair.)
Thank you for taking action at this difficult time,

TenDolkar and all of us here at SFT HQ

Sample message to CNN:

I am writing to express my concern about your Tibet earthquake coverage. The earthquake struck in the Tibetan area of Kyegundo (spoken: Jyekundo), in Tibet’s traditional Kham province. The Chinese government, which occupied Tibet in 1949, refers to the region as the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. Even CCTV, China’s state television network, recognizes Yushu as an overwhelmingly Tibetan area. I call on you to, at a minimum, recognize that the earthquake struck a Tibetan area and that its victims are overwhelmingly Tibetan.