Tibet’s Exile Government Leader in UK, Sikyong Penpa Tsering to address to Oxford Union

London | 30th January 2023

Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the elected leader of the Central Tibetan Administration (aka Tibetan Government-in-exile), arrived in London this morning.

Sikyong greeted by members of Tibetan Community UK, Chairman Tenzin Kunga | Photo: Tsamtruk

He was accorded a very warm welcome reception by a small contingent of his fellow countrymen and women from the Tibetan Community UK and The Office of Tibet at the world’s busiest London Heathrow Airport. After the traditional welcome, Sikyong Penpa Tsering was escorted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative Sonam Frasi and Secretary Lochoe Samten of The Office of Tibet to central London.

Photo: Office of Tibet, London

London resident Youdon Lhamo, who was born in Tibet, is amongst those who welcomed the Tibetan leader at the airport. She said: “I’m so happy to meet and greet Sikyong Penpa Tsering la. I came here simply because I wanted to convey our Sikyong a very warm welcome to England. I really appreciate and thank our Sikyong for his tireless work for the Tibetan cause”.

Youdon Lhamo with Sikyong Penpa Tsering

This is Sikyong Penpa Tsering’s first UK trip since he became Sikyong, the elected leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, in May 2021. Amongst official engagements during his short UK visit, Sikyong Penpa Tsering will deliver an address to the Oxford Union on Tibet.

The Oxford Union: This year also marks The Oxford Union’s Bicentenary year. Founded in 1823 at a time when The University of Oxford restricted students from discussing certain topics, The Union continues to uphold the principle of free speech through the exchange and debate of a wide range of ideas and opinions, presented by a diverse range of speakers – some inspiring, others controversial. 

The Oxford Union has a rich history and a long tradition of bringing together world leaders, thinkers and influencers across politics, religion, science and the arts. Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are just some of the famous figures that The Oxford Union had the honour of hosting. 

According to its website, The Oxford Union invites speakers from around the world and across the political spectrum, and always provides members the opportunity to challenge the speaker during events. 

More recently, the Union has hosted Morgan Freeman, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Natalie Portman, Stephen Fry, Anna Wintour, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Jackson, Shakira, Senator John McCain, General David Petraeus, Malala Yousafzai, Sepp Blatter, Nancy Pelosi and David Cameron, to name but a few.

In 2016, former Sikyong Lobsang Sangay gave an address to the Oxford Union.

After his UK engagements, Sikyong Penpa Tsering will travel across the pond to the US and Canada on 1st February. The Tibetan leader is due for a longer UK visit in the spring when he is expected to give an address to the Tibetan Community.

Who is Penpa Tsering?

Born in India in 1967, Penpa Tsering is a leading Tibetan politician. He is the second democratically elected Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration. He succeeded the last Sikyong Lobsang Sangay on 27 May 2021. Penpa Tsering was also the elected Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile for two terms between 2008 and 2016.

He was first elected to the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in 1996. After serving two terms until 2006, Tsering became the speaker of the 14th and 15th Parliament between 2008 and 2016.

He contested in the 2016 Sikyong election against the then incumbent Sikyong Lobsang Sangay. 

After conceding defeat in the Sikyong election, Penpa Tsering was appointed the North America Representative of the Dalai Lama, Representative to The Office of Tibet, Washington, D.C. in July 2016.

Sikyong Penpa Tserin has spoken about “resolving the issue of Tibet”, “taking care of the welfare of Tibetans in exile”, pursuing “all possible ways to communicate with China,” “facilitating a visit of the Dalai Lama to China,” and advocating for the release of “Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and all other political prisoners”.

Useful links:

Central Tibetan Administration

Sikyong Penpa Tsering

The Oxford Union

Office of Tibet, London

Tibetan Community UK

Radio Free Asia’s report on Sikyong visit

DrukTalk Podcast: A Special interview Sikyong Penpa Tsering, President of Tibetan Government in Exile, on Tibet-China Conflict and prospect, Tibetan advocacy work in the United Kingdom and Europe, Tibetan youth and VTAG and many more.. (31st January 2023)
DrukTalk Podcast: Sikyong Penpa Tsering at Oxford University (31st January 2023)
Sikyong Penpa Tsering | Leader of Tibet address | Oxford Union

Author: Tsering Passang (Tsamtruk)

NGO Professional | Activist | Author | Founder and Chairman, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM)

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