A Man’s Mission for Tibet – An Interview with Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Former Special Envoy of Dalai Lama



Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Former Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

(Source: ICT)

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari is a seasoned and skilled diplomat who is an impassioned advocate for the Tibetan people, universal human rights and global democratic reform. Mr. Gyari has successfully worked at the highest levels of the international arena. He is trusted, consulted and admired by many world leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.

Mr. Gyari has spent the majority of his professional career working directly on behalf of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Prior to his arrival in the United States in 1990, Lodi Gyari served in the senior most elected and appointed positions of the Tibetan administration in exile – from Speaker of the Parliament to Cabinet Minister. At the age of 30, Mr. Gyari was the youngest elected Speaker of the Parliament. He was also one of the youngest people to be appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Kashag (Cabinet), to serve in the Tibetan administration.

As the Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in Washington D.C. from 1990 onwards, Mr. Gyari was able to continue making profound political, economic, and social contributions to the Tibetan cause. For more than twenty years Mr. Gyari earned and has enjoyed access to the highest levels of leadership within both the United States Congress and the Administration. During his tenure as Special Envoy, Mr. Gyari, against huge odds, was able to successfully institutionalize the Tibetan issue within the United States government.

Appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to initiate and lead a dialogue process with the government of the People’s Republic of China, Lodi Gyari not only conducted nine rounds of high level talks in China and elsewhere, but also led an extensive behind the scenes diplomatic effort to sustain the process, expand the channels of communication, build trust with the Chinese leadership and maintain a broad international interest in the dialogue process.

Heads of State, Heads of Government and policy makers consult Mr. Gyari on global and regional issues such as Indo-US relations, Sino-US and Sino-Indian relations because of his expertise, his deep knowledge of the region and his close personal connections with people in those countries.

Early Years

Mr. Gyari was born into an influential family in Nyarong, Eastern Tibet and recognized as a ‘reincarnate’ Buddhist lama (a ‘Rinpoche’.) His early education was in the traditional Tibetan monastic system, where incarnate lamas are offered a unique kind of training, an intensive and closely supervised curriculum somewhat akin to the tutorial system of universities like Oxford or Cambridge, except that in the Tibetan context, the student is taught one on one by an outstanding master scholar and practitioner.

When he was still young, Mr. Gyari’s monastic education and the life his family had known for generations were disrupted by the tragic events that befell his homeland. Nevertheless Mr. Gyari has continued ever since to cultivate and sustain his deep devotion to Buddhist traditions, and to this day he maintains close relationships with many eminent Tibetan Buddhist masters and lineage heads. Over the years, he has found himself uniquely placed to deepen his study of the rich wisdom of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition with its most revered and senior living exponents. As an acknowledgement of his religious background Tibetans refer to Lodi Gyari as ‘Gyari Rinpoche’.

When forced into exile by the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Mr. Gyari was drawn into the ongoing struggle for Tibetan freedom. In this effort he reached out beyond the confines of his community to seek guidance and wisdom from eminent Indian leaders and thinkers, some of who were the giants of the Indian freedom movement. Later in life, Mr. Gyari was able to continue this quest to learn from prominent world leaders and opinion makers in the United States and Europe. Mr. Gyari cultivated his relationship with these political mentors in the same way a devout Buddhist student will learn from his teacher, and thus he has had the unique opportunity to learn from both the world’s greatest Buddhist thinkers and political leaders of our time.

As a young man, deeply affected by what he had seen of the brutal occupation of Tibet, Mr. Gyari longed to take up active resistance in order to help free his fellow Tibetans. He was selected to be educated as a translator for the resistance fighters being trained in the United States. However fate and circumstances intervened, and instead he became a journalist, first as the editor of the Tibetan Freedom Press and then starting the Voice of Tibet (Tibetan Review), the first ever English language publication by a Tibetan.

Mr. Gyari continued to believe in the need for armed resistance in Tibet, but also saw the need for a strong grassroots political movement among the younger generation of Tibetans. To pursue this, in 1970 Mr. Gyari, together with three close associates, established the Tibetan Youth Congress with the goal of motivating the younger generation of the Tibetan community to unify and pursue the political struggle for Tibet’s future. The establishment of the Tibetan Youth Congress created a strong political force in the exiled community, and is credited with introducing democratic principles and practices that have had a profound influence on the democratic evolution of the exiled government. Today the Tibetan Youth Congress is the largest Tibetan political organization in exile.

Mr. Gyari himself is now regarded as a pioneering figure in introducing and establishing a culture of democracy and modernity into the exiled Tibetan community. While the urgency of the time and the pace of events prevented Mr. Gyari from taking a degree or pursue higher academic studies, this was to prove no disadvantage to his emerging role as a very effective and respected statesman.

As he matured, Mr. Gyari went through a profound change of heart, from dreaming of resistance to becoming a committed believer in non-violence and the pursuit of a peaceful solution, as advocated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This transformation was a gradual one that began when Mr. Gyari rose through the ranks of the Tibetan leadership, first as the Speaker of the Parliament and then later as a member of the Kashag (Cabinet). Mr. Gyari is today one of the most dedicated and articulate proponents of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way approach, which Mr. Gyari calls the most farsighted and brilliant strategy for the Tibetan people. The Middle Way approach seeks genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People’s Republic of China.

Advocacy in the United States

Whilst in his role as Special Envoy to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mr. Gyari also served as President of the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington DC from 1991 to 1999. During that time the organization grew from less than one thousand members to more than 75,000, and from an organization with little funding to one with a multi-million dollar budget. Today, the International Campaign for Tibet is the largest and most influential non-governmental organization in the West working on behalf of the Tibetan people with offices in Amsterdam, Berlin and Brussels. Following his term as President of the International Campaign for Tibet, Mr. Gyari joined the organization’s Board of Directors as Executive Chairman, a position he still holds.

Mr. Gyari has advocated for key legislation in the United States Congress benefitting the Tibetan people. From 1991-2011, more than $185 million in funding was set aside by Congress specifically for the Tibetans in Tibet and in exile. His efforts have contributed directly to the institutionalization of U.S. support for Tibet in the form of the Tibet Policy Act (2002), comprehensive legislation that details policy and material support to the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a negotiated solution to the Tibetan problem.

The Tibet Policy Act also codifies the establishment of the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues within the U.S. Department of State. The Special Coordinator’s central objective is to promote substantive dialogue between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives as well as assist in preserving the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic heritage of the Tibetan people.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s Mr. Gyari had also served as the head of the Tibet-UN initiative. He and his team successfully reintroduced the Tibet issue into the UN system when the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities passed the first United Nations resolution on Tibet in August 1991, ending 25 years of silence on the situation in Tibet.

Negotiations with the People’s Republic of China

Mr. Gyari’s life-long diplomatic experience, his firm belief in His Holiness’ Middle Way approach and his passionate desire to help his fellow Tibetans led to the most important mission of his life, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally entrusted him with the task of leading negotiations with the government of the People’s Republic of China.

Mr. Gyari had first visited China in 1982 and again in 1984 as one of the three members of a high level delegation for exploratory talks. Beginning in 2002, he led the Tibetan team that conducted negotiations with the Chinese government for nine separate rounds of talks. During this period his team presented a comprehensive proposal to the Chinese government for the implementation of genuine autonomy in Tibet as a mutually beneficial solution to the conflict.

While the Chinese leadership bluntly accuses Mr. Gyari of spearheading the internationalization of the Tibet issue on behalf of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it also acknowledges that during Mr. Gyari’s stewardship the relationship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Beijing was the most stable and long lasting.

With the transfer of political power from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the democratically elected Tibetan leadership in 2011, Mr. Gyari decided to resign as Special Envoy. He remained in this position for another year as he hoped to maintain the fragile relationship with the government of the People’s Republic of China which he had worked hard to establish and sustain during his tenure as the Special Envoy. However, due to the utter lack of progress in the talks and the increased repression inside Tibet, he resigned in May, 2012.

Ongoing Commitments

Mr. Gyari continues to be actively involved in projects and programs to promote dialogue between Tibetans and Chinese. He is also committed to initiatives to promote right livelihood and socially responsible investments and business to reduce poverty in the Himalayas and Southeast Asia.

Mr. Gyari is the Chairman of the Board of the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture, a U.S. based non-profit organization that works to preserve Tibet’s living cultural heritage in Tibetan cultural areas and communities around the world, working with leading institutions, scholars, and religious leaders.

Additionally, Mr. Gyari both formally and informally supports and promotes numerous civil society, cultural and Buddhist organizations and projects dedicated to maintaining Tibet’s cultural heritage, protecting the Tibetan environment, improving livelihoods, health and education for Tibetan communities, protecting sacred sites in Asia and preserving Tibetan texts, language and art. Through his involvement with non-profit programs and civil society, Mr. Gyari has been instrumental in mobilizing over $100 million in support for more than twenty organizations and programs.

Mr. Gyari has not limited his activities to Tibet issues; he is a citizen of the world. Lodi Gyari’s international activities also have, and continue to include, active engagement in peace making and conflict resolution through Kreddha, the International Peace Council for States, Peoples and Minorities which he co-founded with the late Don Rodrigo Carazo, former President of Costa Rica, and others. Through his involvement with the Sanithirakoses-Nagapateepa Foundation and as founding member of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, based in Bangkok, Mr. Gyari is engaged in the promotion of responsible environmental stewardship and development and social justice in different parts of the world.

He is actively involved in alleviating the plight of other nations and peoples. He is one of the founders of the Allied Committee, an organization formed to advance the common issues faced by the Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians under Chinese rule. This initiative inspired the founding of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, a world-wide organization established before the break-up of the Soviet Union to promote the rights of peoples and minorities through democracy and non-violence. As a founder of UNPO, Mr. Gyari travelled extensively to the Baltic States and other East European nations, working with the democratic movements in those countries. UNPO became very active in promoting equitable solutions to the conflicts in East Timor, Burma, Aceh in Indonesia, Ogoni in Nigeria and Zanzibar, and in supporting the Taiwanese democratic movement. UNPO effectively lobbied at the UN on a wide range of human rights issues and succeeded in placing the issue of population transfer on the agenda of the Commission on Human Rights, who appointed a special rapporteur, passed a resolution on the subject and approved a draft declaration, all of which represented an important milestone. Over the years membership in UNPO has grown steadily and now the organization has almost 70 diverse member nations and ethnic groups worldwide.

Mr. Gyari was also a cofounder with Michele Bohana, Joel McCleary and Lavinia Currier of the Institute for Asian Democracy (IAD), which became one of the first, most enduring and effective organizations working for human rights and democratic reform in Burma. In the early 1990’s IAD worked closely with human rights leaders such as the former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and published for concerned international leaders, comprehensive reports on the situation in Burma and recommendations for action.

Mr. Gyari is regularly invited to share his thoughts at academic institutions and universities in the United States, Europe and Asia. He has contributed to numerous publications and spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations, The Kennedy School of Government, The Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Asia Society, Asia Centre in Paris, The Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore, India International Center, The Heritage Foundation, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Chatham House, Australian National University and others. Mr. Gyari travels extensively, and has visited more than 50 countries. He has been invited numerous times to testify before the US Congress, European Parliament and other government bodies and institutions on the Tibet issue and the threats confronting Tibet’s cultural and spiritual heritage.

Lodi Gyari has published editorials in many publications including The South China Morning Post, Asian Wall St. Journal, The Washington Post, The Harvard Asia Quarterly and The Far Eastern Economic Review. Mr. Gyari has also contributed chapters in several published works including ‘Challenges faced by Tibetans in Reaching a lasting Agreement with China’ in Implementing Negotiated Agreements: The Real Challenge to Intrastate Peace (M. Boltjes, ed., The Hague 2007, Asser Press).

A US citizen, Mr. Gyari lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife, Dawa Chokyi. They divide their time between India and the U.S. They have six children and an increasing number of grandchildren.

– See more at: http://www.savetibet.org/about-ict/ict-boards/lodi-gyaltsen-gyari/#sthash.WT8lDiAl.dpuf

An Unsung Hero’s Mission for Tibet: An Interview with Thubten Samdup

Thubten Samdup

Thubten Samdup, the Outgoing Dalai Lama’s Representative for Northern Europe based at The Office of Tibet, London speaks about his lifelong commitment for Tibet and the Tibetan people’s non-violent freedom struggle and their challenges. He is a recipient of the 2005 ‘Unsung Heroes of Compassion’ award.

Early Years

Thubten Samdup (also known as ‘Sam’ among his western friends) was born in Lhasa in central Tibet; both his parents are from Kham. His father was a trader of tea, barley and wool, his mother a farmer. In 1959, Samdup fled the Chinese occupation when he was only 7 years old with his parents and younger brother. They escaped to India, where the family sought refuge in Kalimpong. Later, he was placed in a government reception centre for Tibetan refugee children (Bhuso Khang) in Dharamsala. A year later, he and sixteen other youths were selected and enrolled in the Tibetan Music, Dance and Drama Society, now known as the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), the first exile organisation established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

At TIPA, Samdup studied traditional Tibetan music and dance, and later was awarded a John D. Rockefeller III Fund schola

TIPA Group Photo, 1963 (Photo courtesy: Thubten Samdup)
TIPA Group Photo, 1963 (Photo: Thubten Samdup)

rship, under which he studied ethnomusicology at Brown University in Rhode Island. A second JDR III scholarship enabled Samdup to document the oral traditions of Tibetan music.

After returning from America in 1976, Samdup was appointed as Director of TIPA. Whilst in Dharamsala, he became involved with the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) and later served as its President for three years from 1978.

In 1980, Samdup moved to Montreal, Canada where he settled with his Canadian wife and two children. In Montreal, he served in the local

Tibetan association and became its president and served for eight years. He was later elected as the first member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile representing Tibetans living in North America (1991–1996).

Samdup co-founded the Canada Tibet Committee and for seventeen years, he served as its National President (1987–2004). He also created Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet in 1991 – a non-partisan group of Parliament members and Senators working in support of Tibet. In 1992, Samdup started the World Tibet Network News along with three other editors – an electronic news service that publishes daily news on Tibet to global audience to create awareness on the Tibetan situation. In the same year, he also started TSG Email List – an online communication tool which enables enhanced communication and better co-ordination amongst the core Tibet support groups around the world. For the non-English speaking support groups he created separate German, French & Spanish email group lists.

At Press Conference in Parliament Hill (Photo: Thubten Samdup)
At Press Conference in Parliament Hill
(Photo: Thubten Samdup)

In 2006, Samdup established Drelwa (Online China Outreach) – enabling virtual interactions between Tibetans in exile and Chinese Netizens. In addition to reaching out to the Chinese, the initiative also created employments to Tibetans. He assumed the Chairman’s role of the Dalai Lama Foundation in Canada in 2007.

In Canada, Samdup organised five visits by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as key meetings between His Holiness and leading Canadian political parties and religious leaders, including the then Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin. The 2004 meeting between His Holiness and Prime Minister Paul Martin was regarded as ‘strategic’ from the Tibetan side. This followed after securing almost two-thirds of the Canadian parliamentarians’ support, calling upon the Prime Minister to serve as an honest broker between the leaders of China and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.

Thubten Samdup’s prominence in the Tibetan community rose after launching his personal initiative – Kalon Tripa Candidate’s Campaign, which sparked an unprecedented level of interest from the Tibetan populace on the 2011 Kalon Tripa Election.

In 2009, Samdup was headhunted by Dharamsala (despite not being a CTA public servant) from Canada for his dedicated service and pioneering initiatives for Tibet and the Tibetan cause. He was appointed as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative for Northern Europe (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the UK). Samdup started his diplomatic mission exactly five years ago in August 2009 based at The Office of Tibet in London.


(Canada Tibet Committee)

Q1: Thubten la, you moved to Canada in 1980 with your Canadian wife, Carol Samdup. I hear that your wife is also a very dedicated Tibet supporter. I understand that with your wife, you founded the Canada Tibet Committee in 1987, and served as its President until 2004. Please share with us your roles – for example, how you started this major Canada-based Tibet NGO and its activities. This includes outreach with the Canadian Government and Parliament that has affected Tibetan people’s freedom struggle.

Thubten Samdup (TS): Yes my wife has played a very important role in everything I have done in my life. Without her unconditional support, I could not have carried on with all my crazy initiatives and ideas.

Thubten Samdup la with Tsering Passang (Photo: Rinzin Wangyal)
Thubten Samdup with Tsering Passang
(Photo: Rinzin Wangyal)

Canada Tibet Committee was established in 1987 right after the major uprising in Lhasa. Group of teen age Tibetans and some non-Tibetan friends from Montreal started a long March from Montreal to Canada’s national capital Ottawa. It took us five days to get there and we received national coverage since the Chinese soldiers firing on innocent and peaceful Tibetans became international news.

Many Canadian friends came forth and offered to do what they can to support our cause. I felt that we needed to establish a formal organisation and this is how CTC was created. Within two years, we had 11 branches across Canada and the interesting thing about CTC is that almost all branches were headed by Tibetans. I can say this with great pride that we were successful in our mission mainly because the Tibetan communities across Canada supported us.

Q2: I hear that the ongoing Tibetan Re-settlement Project (1000 Tibetan refugees from Tezu, Miao, Bomdilla and Tuting) from Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India to Canada was the result of a humble request made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to some Canadian authorities. I wonder whether there is any link or role that you and/or the Canada Tibet Committee might have played in facilitating this re-settlement project?(a project that will continue to change the lives of thousands of Tibetan refugees, who are from a poorer sections of our community in India). If so, will you please share with us the background?

TS: We had been discussing about the possibility of perhaps trying to bring in more Tibetans into Canada for some years but the final breakthrough came about during His Holiness’ visit to Montreal in September of 2009. Last day of His Holiness’ visit to Montreal, he met with the former Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, Senator Con Di Nino, in a hotel near the airport. This is where His Holiness made the appeal to Minister Jason Kenney and to his credit, he saw it through.

Once the announcement was made, CTC’s former Director Mr. Dermod Travis and Mr. Nima Dorjee la from Calgary started Project Tibet Society and they have been doing amazing work so far.

(Democracy & Youth Engagement)

Q3: After the launch of the Kalon Tripa Candidate’s Campaign website, almost three years before the Tibetan General Election, this initiative eventually brought forward over 20 candidates (both men and women) to the Tibetan electorates. Many public and private discussions on the 2011 Kalon Tripa election were held in Tibetan communities around the world, along with the need for choosing a strong Kalon Tripa candidate to lead the Tibetan Movement forward. Finally, Harvard legal scholar Dr Lobsang Sangay was elected as the Kalon Tripa (now Sikyong). Did you ever anticipate this level of interest from the Tibetans in Exile particularly amongst the younger generation when you first came up with the notion of this campaign? Are you pleased with the way it rolled out eventually?

TS: I am extremely pleased and proud that I was able to make a small difference in our “Journey to Democracy”. My motivation from the start was to make sure that we find the best possible candidate who can lead us in these difficult times and the only way we will find such a person is if we all start searching for such a person. The way our current system goes, by the time a call for nomination in announcement from Dharamsala, it does not allow a new person who does not have the name recognition in the general public to become a serious contender. That is why I launched the initiative almost 3 years before the election on September 2nd of 2008. Even Sikyong himself today jokingly admits had it not been for the initiative, he may not have been the Sikyong today.

(International Tibet Support Network)

Q4: Whilst serving at the Canada Tibet Committee, I believe you co-founded the International Tibet Network (formerly known as International Tibet Support Network). Please tell us why you saw the need for this global network and how it all began? What are the challenges the Tibet Support Groups today face in their pursuit of supporting the Tibet Movement?

TS: Because I had started the listserv for Tibet Support Groups around the world, I used to receive many queries on Tibet and help for more information. Since I had a full time day job in a major Canadian engineering firm and all the work I did on Tibet are done from my basement on weekends and week night, I felt that we needed to establish an umbrella organisation that can oversee and coordinate the works of TSGs around the globe, I propose the establishment of International Tibet Network in Berlin, Germany and it received unanimous support from all delegation including former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche.

(The Office of Tibet – Mission, Roles and Responsibilities)

Q5: Your official position is Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe. Do you simply represent His Holiness the Dalai Lama and support with facilitating his visits to the countries of your jurisdiction? Or do you also represent the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in its pursuit of political, cultural and diplomatic relations with those countries? How many people are currently working at The Office of Tibet? There is also an affiliated charitable wing – the Tibet House Trust. Please explain what you as Representative and The Office of Tibet do for Tibet and Tibetan people?

TS: In this role, we do both. His Holiness’ overseas trips are very important part of our job and we all take this responsibility very seriously. We also represent CTA. We meet regularly with officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and members of parliament from the countries under our jurisdictions.

In London office, there are only three people working in the office including the Representative. With our limited resources, we have tried to be strategic and with innovative ideas to further the cause of Tibet. I have always felt as a Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, opportunities are limitless.

Q6: What level of recognition (diplomatic status) does the British Government (and also in other countries of your jurisdiction) give to the Central Tibetan Administration and The Office of Tibet? During His Holiness’ visit to the UK and other countries, what level of security protection and reception do the governments provide through your good offices?

TS: Of course no countries in the world recognize Tibet as an independent country and therefore the Office of Tibet and the Representative do not receive the diplomatic status. However, some of the smaller countries particularly the Baltics States treat us with more respect and they are more sympathetic.

I have found that most countries in Northern Europe provide reasonable security during His Holiness’ visit. For instance, Poland and some of Baltic States provide high level security. Whatever the reason the UK government’s security arrangement is minimal.

Q7: I learned that the Tibet House Trust has recently secured 1.5 million Euros for some capacity-building related programmes in the exiled Tibetan community. Can you please explain more about this grant and how it will be best utilised?

TS: Yes we have managed to raise 1.5 million Euros and it is being used for capacity building for human rights defenders.

Q8: In the past whenever His Holiness paid visits to the Houses of Parliament, The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet were involved to organise interaction with the British MPs, who are sympathetic to Tibet and the Tibetan people. However, in the case of the 2012 UK visit by His Holiness, I noted that, unlike your predecessors, you handled it differently. You involved The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Food & Security for His Holiness’s meeting with British MPs. This new approach has attracted the largest numbers of British MPs ever attending His Holiness’s event in parliament. Could you please share with us why you have done it this way?

TS: Yes this is true. It was handled differently in 2012 and the reason for this is simple. Most of the visits of His Holiness abroad, he meets politicians who are already supporters of Tibet and people knowledgeable about Tibet. I felt it is very important to be more strategic to invite and facilitate His Holiness to meet with new audience. For instance, many parliamentarians find it difficult to attend meeting with His Holiness when the invitation is extended from a Tibet friendly parliamentarian group like the APPG for Tibet for instance. That is why I decided to go with All Party Parliamentarian Group for Food & Security. There are 650 members of parliament in the British parliament, we must try and get those parliamentarians who may not necessarily have an interest in Tibet but interested in seeing His Holiness. This is the only opportunity when we can attract these politicians and diplomats alike.

Q9: In August 2009, you said that your London appointment was four-year term but you stayed on for five! What extra things have you achieved in the fifth year that you did not achieve during the original four-year mission?

TS: The reason we extended one more year is to finish off some of the work I had started for next year (2015) when His Holiness turns 80. I wanted to make sure all loose ends are tied and my successor can follow up.

Q10: I hear that after leaving The Office of Tibet next month, you have plans to work on a youth employment initiative in the Tibetan settlements. Is this true? If so, please tell us what is this all about? Do you have funds available to kick-off your initiative?

TS: Yes it is true. I find it very important that we must come up with a strategic plan to help those young Tibetans who may choose to live in the community and raise their children in the Tibetan culture and also look after their aged parents. We must provide them with an option. Of course I have no magical solution but I am positive we can come up with something interesting to provide decent paying employment opportunities.

I had visited all the major Tibetan settlements in Karnataka State in 2006. During the visit, I felt something had to be done. Unfortunately, I had no time to devote to this project in the last 5 years in London. Now with little more time on hand and with cooperation with CTA, I want to try something innovative and sustainable project to help achieve this stated goal.

(Sino-Tibetan Dialogue)

Q11: There has been no dialogue between Beijing and Dharamsala since 2010. What do you think should be done to convince the Chinese side that dialogue is necessary for mutually benefit? Dharamsala has yet to appoint new Tibetan Envoys, following the resignation of Special Envoy, Lodi Gyari, and Envoy, Kelsang Gyaltsen, who were responsible for holding talks with the Chinese representatives. Would you be interested if Dharamsala appoints you as one of the interlocutors to conduct talks with the Chinese counterparts?

TS: It is true that there has been no official dialogue between Beijing and Dharamsala since 2010. However, His Holiness regularly meets with prominent Chinese business and intellectuals and during his foreign visits, His Holiness always make an effort to reach out to Chinese. Sikyong also believes China outreach is very important.

In private capacity, there is nothing stopping anyone of us from doing the outreach work. In fact, all Tibetans and supporters must do the outreach especially in the West. There are over 100,000 Chinese students studying in the UK alone and what an opportunity to do the outreach work. These students when they return, most of them will be holding very important positions in the government and corporate world.

Me as an interlocutor is laughable. I know my limits. This is something beyond me and I know I don’t have what it takes to be an effective envoy. Of course, I can always do China outreach myself and also assist in perhaps facilitating meetings between Dharamsala and people I come into contact with.

Q12: Is there anything else you would like to add in relation to your personal commitment for Tibet and the Tibetan people’s non-violent freedom struggle before I move onto the theme of arts & music?

TS: Well the time has come for me to slow down a bit but I still do have some things in the pipeline. I will never completely give up my work for Tibet. It has become very much part of my life and I believe we can all make contributions in our own private capacity.

(Tibetan Arts & Music)

Q13: You spent your early years at TIPA, learning Tibetan performing arts. Your debut song, ‘Rinzin Wangmo’ is probably the best solo Tibetan love-song to this day, which has been sung by so many Tibetan singers, not only in exile but even inside Tibet, including the well-known singer, Yadong. Even the native singers from the Himalayan region of Nepal (Raju Lama) and Ladakh (Phuntsok) have sung your song! Who composed the lyrics and the melody? Who was Rinzin Wangmo in the song? Was she yours sweet-heart at the time or just a dream girl?

TS: Yes this song was written many years ago and today more Tibetans know me from this song than anything else I have done in my life. I am very flattered and humbled by so many great singers to day have sung this song both inside and outside Tibet. To me, it seems like another lifetime!  No there was no sweet heart or a dream girl by that name.

Q14: It is said that music has no boundaries and it brings people together. In the case of the Tibetan situation, musicians and artistes from Tibet cannot visit Tibetan settlements in India and perform. Similarly, the exiled Tibetan musicians and artistes cannot visit and perform in Tibet. How do you feel about that? Do you have any advice and words of encouragement to share with Tibetan musicians and artists who could play important roles to bring Tibetans together through music?

TS: I have always believed that every single person can make a difference. I am thrilled that so many young Tibetans today are using the medium of music for advocacy and awareness raising. This is fantastic. One can never tell how this current gridlock can break.

(The interview was conducted by Tsering Passang for the LondonNey Productions – www.youtube.com/LondonNey)