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:

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.

Where is the Panchen Lama?

What government kidnaps a 6-year-old boy?

One that is deeply insecure and fears what this boy represents.

The kidnapped boy is Gendhun Choekyi Nyima. In 1995, six-year-old Gendhun was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, one of Tibet’s most important religious leaders. Two months later, he was abducted by the Chinese government, which fears the Tibetan people’s allegiance to him.

Gendhun Choekyi Nyima turns 23 years old today. For almost two decades, he has been a prisoner of the Chinese government.

Send a letter to Vice-Minister Zhu Weiqun, China’s official spokesperson on Tibetan affairs, calling for the Panchen Lama’s freedom.

Gendhun’s abduction reflects a desperate attempt by China to control Tibetan culture and religion. But in doing so, they have galvanized an international movement for his release and for Tibetan freedom. Every year the Panchen Lama remains missing, more people are moved to speak out on his behalf. His name and his image are known in the most powerful political offices around the world.

The more letters we send on Gendhun’s behalf, the more global scrutiny China’s leaders will feel over his case.

Send a letter today calling for his release:

The Panchen Lama’s continued disappearance has come to symbolize the Chinese government’s brutal rule in Tibet.

Around the world today, Tibetans and people of conscience are taking various grassroots actions to demand that China reveal the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama. In New Delhi, college students have pasted MISSING posters with his image around their campuses. Meanwhile, in London, Paris, New York, Toronto and in hundreds of cities, Tibetans and their supporters are rallying outside Chinese embassies and consulates to make sure China hears our message loud and clear.

To find out how you can join them, please visit:

Your actions are making a difference.

Lhamo Tso speaks – The trials of a political prisoner’s wife

This April the 30th at 5:30 pm, join us at Parkdale Library as we host Lhamo Tso on her Canada-wide speaking tour campaigning for the release of her husband Dhondup Wangchen. Lhamo Tso will be speaking about her life in … Continue reading

Senate passes Tibet resolution unanimously

Just yesterday we posted an update about a US Senate resolution being approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee. Today, we are deeply encouraged by the news that the Senate has unanimously passed the Tibet resolution, which calls on the Chinese government to end repressive policies in Tibet, address the Tibetan people’s legitimate grievances, and allow foreign journalists and diplomats unrestricted access to Tibet.

This is a major victory for the Tibetan people, who are battling the worst repression in 60 years of living under Chinese occupation. Amidst the tragic news of fresh self-immolations occurring in Tibet just today, this is a victory worth celebrating and emulating in other democratic countries. As ICT’s director of government relations Todd Stein said, the passage of this resolution shows that the U.S government “is united in its demand for an end to the Chinese crackdown in Tibet.”

S. Res. 356 was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and cosponsored by a bipartisan group including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Udall (D-CO).

In ICT’s language, the resolution:
- mourns the death of Tibetans who have self-immolated and deplores repressive policies targeting Tibetans;
- call on the Chinese government to suspend religious control regulations, reassess religious and security policies in Tibet, and resume a dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives;
- call on the Chinese government to release all persons that have been arbitrarily detained, including Kirti monks, and allow unrestricted access to journalists, foreign diplomats, and international organizations to Tibet;
- commend the Dalai Lama for his decision to devolve his political power in favor of a democratic system, and congratulates exile Tibetans for conducting free and fair elections;
- reaffirm the unwavering friendship between Americans and the people of Tibet; and
- call on the State Department of State to establish a consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, and to not permit China to open further diplomatic missions in the United States until the Chinese government agrees to open a U.S. consulate in Lhasa.

A small but important victory

Last week Tibetans and their supporters, including dozens of SFT members around the globe, lobbied their respective parliaments for Tibet. Today we’re writing to update you on a small but important victory.

On Tuesday, the bi-partisan Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate unanimously approved a resolution calling for an end to China’s repression in Tibet and urged Beijing to listen to the demands of the Tibetan people. Strong support for this resolution was a key Lobby Day ask and the committee’s approval is a sign that our efforts are having an impact.

The legislation now moves to the Senate floor for a full member vote. Let’s make sure it receives the resounding support it deserves. Please call your Senators to ask them to vote in favor of Resolution 356 when it is introduced.

TAKE ACTION: Make a Call for Tibet

Step 1: Send an online letter to your Senators urging them to support Resolution 356.

Step 2: Pick up the phone and call your Senators’ Offices to ensure your request is acted upon.

Statement on the self-immolation of a young Tibetan in Delhi, India

March 26, 2012

Today’s act of self-immolation by Jamphel Yeshi, a young Tibetan in Delhi, highlights the extreme urgency of the situation inside Tibet. Thirty Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in protest in Tibet over the past two years, 17 since January of this year, and now four Tibetans in exile have also attempted to self-immolate. These acts are a direct response to the decades of violence and repressive policies that Tibetans have endured under China’s occupation, and a cry for action.

The Chinese government has responded to Tibetans’ calls for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama by locking down Tibet and intensifying its vicious attacks against the Dalai Lama. The few journalists who have managed to get into Tibet by eluding checkpoints and road blocks have reported towns and cities saturated with Chinese troops; their photos show Tibet looking like a war zone. An unknown number of monks, nuns and lay people have been arrested in recent weeks for taking part in peaceful protests, many of them rounded up from their homes at night.

China’s brutal attempts to crush Tibetans’ nonviolent resistance have only strengthened our resolve to achieve freedom. Tibetans everywhere – in Tibet and in exile – have been galvanized by the events of the past several months, and are doing everything possible to build political momentum for an international diplomatic intervention to save Tibetan lives.

The overwhelming message from Tibet is that change must come now. Thousands upon thousands of people of conscience are standing in solidarity with Tibetans in this hour of crisis, and our collective global outrage must translate into direct pressure on Beijing to withdraw the troops, stop the crackdown and address Tibetan grievances.

Tenzin Dorjee
Executive Director
Students for a Free Tibet

Hunger for Freedom

On Monday, I walked through the halls of US Congress with two incredible women, Ngawang Sangdrol and Lhamo Tso. I have always enjoyed interpreting for the courageous Ngawang Sangdrol, who served 11 years in Tibet’s notorious Drapchi Prison for joining a peaceful protest in 1987. Now, having lived in the United States since 2003, she not only speaks fluent English but also points out the mistakes or inadequacies in my translation from time to time.

Lhamo Tso, on the other hand, only speaks Tibetan. As the exiled wife of Dhondup Wangchen, who is serving a six-year sentence for making the film Leaving Fear Behind, she has been a tireless advocate for her husband, traveling the world to promote his case. She has gone on speaking tours, met with dozens of MPs, collected thousands of petition signatures – while singlehandedly raising their four children by selling bread on the side of the road in Dharamsala, India.

It was impossible not to be humbled as I listened to Ngawang and Lhamo’s stories in the presence of Congressional Representatives during this year’s annual Tibet Lobby Day, the fourth and the largest ever.

On Tuesday, a group of us from New York met with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who listened intently as we requested her to advocate congressional pressure on the Chinese government to stop the crackdown and address Tibetan grievances. Sonam la, a community leader from New York, broke down in tears as he spoke about the young Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protest of Chinese rule. Everyone in the room bowed their heads, blinking frequently to push tears back into their eyes.

Representative Clarke expressed her deep sympathies with the Tibetan people, promising that she would urge greater congressional support for the Tibetan struggle for freedom. I took the opportunity to speak about the three Tibetan hunger strikers in front of the United Nations, informing the Congresswoman that the hunger strike, organized by the Tibetan Youth Congress, was entering its 28th day.

The hunger strike has gripped the attention of everyone in the Tibetan world. The three participants represent diverse sections of Tibetan society: His Eminence Shingza Rinpoche as a high-ranking lama, Mr. Dorjee Gyalpo as a Tibetan elder from Minnesota, and Mr. Yeshi Tenzin as a Tibetan youth activist from India.

As a close friend of Shingza Rinpoche, it had been a heart-breaking experience for me to see him and others sitting outside the UN, in the sun, rain and wind. Even after 20 days without food, Rinpoche’s irreverent sense of humor shone through in his mischievous smile. But on Wednesday morning, when I saw him again after I returned from Washington, DC, his facial expression betrayed the severe deterioration in his health. Time was running out for them.

Yesterday, to everyone’s great joy, senior officials from the UN Secretary General’s office visited the hunger strikers and delivered a letter addressing hunger strikers’ demands. As Tibetan Youth Congress president Tsewang Rigzin announced that the hunger strike was being officially concluded, Rinpoche and Yeshi Tenzin sipped orange juice from a plastic cup. Cheers erupted from the hundreds of Tibetans, supporters and journalists who had gathered at the site.

“This is a small victory that we will build on,” said Tsewang Rigzin, speaking to the media.

It was a beautiful spring day with clear blue skies. Standing there in front of the UN, my thoughts were with our brothers and sisters in Tibet. Just this week a powerful video smuggled out of Tibet, and aired on Voice of America, shows a group of monks in Amdo’s Malho prefecture defiantly walking – some running – through the town of Ba Thunte, waving homemade Tibetan flags and making the classic Tibetan warrior cry, ‘Kyi Hi Hi.’

You can watch the video here:

These brave monks, many of whom may have been arrested by now, are the nonviolent warriors at the forefront of Tibet’s epic battle for freedom. This week reminded me of one of the greatest weapons Tibetans have on our side — our unity.

Whether it’s Ngawang Sangdrol and Lhamo Tso with SFTers advocating for Tibet in the halls of political power, or Rinpoche and the TYC hunger strikers in front of the UN, or the thousands of brave Tibetans inside Tibet using self-immolation, protest, and now the Lhakar self-reliance and noncooperation tactics to defy Chinese rule every day, we are united in our struggle, forming one of the greatest nonviolent armies in the world.

This is a unity that will last far beyond the totalitarian Chinese regime. Tibet will be free.

SFT Victoria Holds Rally for Tibet

Report from SFT Victoria by our very own Bazzi Irvine: This year we held our annual rally in coordination with Canada Tibet Committee Victoria and the Tibetan Association of Vancouver Island. We were fortunate to have a delegation of Tibetans … Continue reading

Tibetans, Supporters in 100+ Cities Stand Up for Freedom as Self-Immolations Continue in Tibet


For Immediate Release
March 10, 2012

Contact: Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director, +1 (646) 724-0748
Tenzin Dolkar, USA Director, +1 (917) 727-6239
Kate Woznow, Deputy Director, +1 (917) 300-9491

Tibet campaigners urge meaningful action from global governments

New York – Tibetans and their supporters in more than 30 countries (1) took to the streets today to mark the 53rd anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising (2) when tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up against China’s invasion and occupation of their country. Today’s global protests came as Tibetans inside Tibet continue to defiantly resist China’s repressive policies, which have provoked an unprecedented wave of self-immolations by Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople. On March 6th, a Tibetan man was reportedly shot dead, and two more injured, as police conducted a manhunt to arrest Tibetans who had taken part in a nonviolent protest in Pema County, eastern Tibet, in late January.

“Today we honor all Tibetans, past and present, who have courageously resisted China’s violent colonial rule. Fifty three years on, Tibetans are still demanding independence and the freedom simply to be Tibetan – to speak our language, to practice our Buddhist religion, and to live free in our own country,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “In the past year, Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, Syrians, and others around the world have risen up and shown the world that the time for authoritarian rulers has ended. In Tibet, the self-immolations, acts of civil disobedience, and mass protests demonstrate that even one more day under the Chinese regime is too long. Tibetans need freedom now.”

Since January 2012, 13 Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people (3) in eastern Tibet have set themselves alight in protest, calling for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. All told, 26 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet since 2009, at least 19 of whom have died (4), including Rinchen, a mother of four children (4). The same calls for freedom were heard during a wave of large-scale peaceful protests in January and February of this year. Chinese security forces responded to this resistance by opening fire on crowds, killing at least five Tibetans and seriously injuring many more.

“The self-immolations are a direct response by Tibetans who have suffered horrific repression for decades under China’s occupation. As Tibetans in Tibet are taking their own lives to resist China’s violent regime, people of conscience worldwide were in streets today to ensure that Tibetans’ cries for freedom echo around the world and pierce the halls of political power,” said Tenzin Dolkar, USA Director of Students for a Free Tibet.

Tibetans in Tibet continue to risk everything in defiance of the Chinese leadership, which recently announced it was preparing for “war” against Tibetan “saboteurs” (5).  In an effort to stop news of this unrest reaching the world, the Chinese government has sealed Tibet off from foreigners and journalists, and cut internet and mobile phone service in many areas. Undercover footage obtained by journalists who have snuck into Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), eastern Tibet, shows a town saturated with riot police, troops, and other extreme military build up.(6)

“Faced with all the armed might of the Chinese state, Tibetans are unwavering in their demand for basic rights and freedoms,” said Kate Woznow, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “Today, people around the world stood in solidarity and called on our global leaders to come together now to take new, coordinated action to help secure a just and fair resolution for the Tibetan people, so that they can live their lives in the peace and freedom they have sacrificed so much to achieve.”

1. See

2. March 10, 2012 is the anniversary of one of the most momentous days in Tibetan history; on this day in 1959 thousands of Tibetans in Tibet took to the streets of Lhasa to protest against Chinese rule and protect their leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As China shelled Lhasa, the Dalai Lama was forced to escape from Tibet. In 2008, protests in Tibet on March 10 sparked an uprising across the Tibetan plateau in the weeks that followed, the largest since the 1959 Uprising.

3. See

4. See report by the International Campaign for Tibet:

5. In February 2012, Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Chen Quanguo told officials to prepare for “a war against secessionist sabotage” [Tibet Daily, quoted by The Telegraph, see ]

6) See footage from Sky News,, and The Guardian,