Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world. Through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action, we campaign for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom. Our role is to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement for social justice.
In our work for Tibetan independence we also aim to inspire and enable people, especially youth, to create a just and equitable world, free of oppression, in which there is respect for the earth and all living things.
We believe every individual has the right to be free. Those who enjoy freedom have the power and also the responsibility to make positive change in the world. We seek to create opportunities to inspire, enable and motivate all people to see that change is possible. We value creativity in every pursuit and we believe it is essential to have fun while working towards our vision of a just and equitable world.
The achievements of Students for a Free Tibet show that nonviolent action does work.
Pema was born and raised in London and is a recognizable face in the UK and Europe for her years of Tibet activism. As SFT UK’s National Coordinator from 2007, she helped develop and strengthen the Tibetan youth movement in the UK and Europe before moving to New York to join SFT International in 2013. She played a key role in the UK’s Olympics campaign coordination for the Beijing games and has organized and taken part in many direct actions around the world since, including in Beijing, London, Brisbane, New York City, Athens, Cannes and Geneva.
Dorjee was born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India. He graduated from MS University in Gujarat with a Bachelors in Economic and Post Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Studies, and developed his skills as a trainer at the Tibetan Center for Conflict Resolution before joining the staff of Students for a Free Tibet India in 2009. He served as SFT India’s National Director for four years, before joining SFT International in 2013. A keen strategist and media spokesperson, Dorjee has trained hundreds of Tibetan and Indian students through SFT’s Youth Leadership Training program. After graduating from the Lhakar Academy Tibetan School of Leadership and Change in 2011, he returned as a guest trainer the following two years. In 2016, Dorjee was elected as a Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
Urgyen has been active with SFT since 2007, starting as an intern at the SFT Canada office and shortly joining SFT Canada’s Board of Directors. He started as SFT Canada’s National Director in 2011 and since then has organized numerous direct actions, led successful national and international campaigns – the most notable being the shutdown of China’s Confucius Institute in the Toronto district. He has also led grassroots trainings around the world, and has over the course of four years built public and governmental support in Canada for Tibet. He graduated with a Design Degree in 2010 from OCAD University in Toronto. In 2016, Ugen joined SFT’s international team as the Campaigns Director.
Sonamtso has been a lifelong activist, organizer, and leader with the Tibetan freedom movement. She has been deeply involved with SFT since 2009, while in high school, and revitalized youth activism in California in 2013 when she became a regional coordinator for SFT. In addition to the Tibet cause, Sonamtso has been engaged in solidarity work with other Bay Area communities similarly working to end state violence and discrimination and secure human rights and democracy. Along with having a passion for social justice, Sonamtso enjoys playing soccer and other outdoor activities. Sonamtso received her Bachelor of Science in Management from University of California, Merced.
Gaychey was born to a Tibetan refugee family in Kathmandu, Nepal. He did his schooling in Darjeeling, India, and moved to Toronto, Canada, when he was 15. He graduated with a Graphic Design advanced diploma from Humber College. He has been active with SFT since 2007, volunteering and interning at the SFT Canada office. Gaychey was one of the key organizers and media coordinators during the 2008 Tibet direct action at the Chinese embassy in Ottawa. In 2012, he took part in a month-long intensive training at Lhakar Academy, the Tibetan School for Leadership and Change. As a graphic designer, Gaychey hopes to use his skills and talents to contribute to the overall aesthetics of SFT’s brand and campaigns.
Sonam is a strong, passionate and dynamic Tibetan activist who believes in the power of youth and strategic non-violence. She is finishing her studies in International Development at York University in Toronto, with a Bachelor’s Degree with Honours. Sonam’s love and involvement with Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) started early on at the York University SFT chapter in 2010 during her first year of undergraduate studies. Since then, she has been involved in various conferences, chapter retreats, trainings as well as the Free Tibet Action Camp in Germany in 2013. Sonam has been a proud resident of Parkdale, also known as ‘Little Tibet,’ for the past 16 years. As a former student of the Tibetan performing arts, nowadays, every Sunday, she instructs young students in both traditional and contemporary Tibetan Performing Arts at the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre. Sonam is also passionate about education, social innovation, and gender equality in Tibet and one day hopes to play a role to tackle these issues in a Free and Independent Tibet.
Ellen joined SFT in 2013 after attending her first Free Tibet! Action Camp in Germany. She started an SFT chapter at the London School of Economics (LSE) the year after, and volunteered at the UK office, helping with chapter visits, lobbying, and organising the annual conference before starting as the National Co-ordinator in March 2016. Within the first 5 months at SFT-UK, Ellen has built strong relationships with the Tibetan Community in Britain and campaign strategy planning with key Tibet NGO’s in the UK. Ellen received her Bachelor of Law and Anthropology from London School of Economics.
Tselha was born to a Tibetan refugee family in Ladakh. She did her schooling from Tibetan Children’s Village school in India. She did her Bachelors in Education from Punjab University, after which she completed her Masters in English Literature from Pune University, where she founded SFT-Pune chapter. She was a participant in SFT-India’s Free Tibet! Action Camp in 2010, and took intensive climb action training at Action Camp in 2013. She joined Students for a Free Tibet-India as the Grassroots Director in 2013, and has traveled extensively across India visiting our chapters, holding numerous trainings, and inspiring youth nationwide.
Tensonam is a Tibetan born and raised in India. He did his schooling from Tibetan Children Village school Dharamshala in north India and Bylakuppe in South India. From Pune university he did his graduation in Commerce and completed his Master in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management.He joined Tibetan Chamber of Commerce as Assistant Director in the year 2005 and later on served as Executive Director for 2 years until he joined Students for a Free Tibet -India as Development Director in the year 2009. He has given trainings on blockades and non-violent direct actions at SFT’s Free Tibet! Action Camps, and been involved in numerous protest actions in Delhi.
Rinzin Choedon was born in India to a Tibetan refugee family. Her initial schooling was done at Tibetan Children’s Village school at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. She completed her Bachelors and Masters degree from Miranda House College, Delhi University in English Literature. She has been actively working with Students For Free a Tibet (SFT) India since 2010 and shouldered the responsibility of SFT Delhi as the chapter coordinator in 2012. She was an active participant in SFT Leadership Training in 2012 and subsequent SFT-India’s Free Tibet Action Camp in 2013. Her creativity and dynamism along with proven competency is what makes her the new face of upcoming leadership in Tibetan community. She joined SFT India as a Grassroots Director in 2015.
Lobsang Phendey (Nawang Lama) was born in the U-tsang region of Tibet, but later came to Kathmandu, Nepal where he did his schooling. He initiated and took part in numerous protest actions and demonstrations for Tibet in Nepal. He moved to Delhi in 2010 and since then has been actively involved with Students for a Free Tibet – India. He was a participant in SFT-India’s Action Camp in 2011, SFT Leadership Training in 2012, and is a part of SFT-India’s first climb team. He joined SFT-India as Development Associate cum Action Coordinator for Delhi field office in 2012.
Lobsang Tseten was born and brought up in a refugee settlement in Pokhara, Nepal. He completed his studies from St Joseph College of Arts and Science with a Masters Degree in Mass Communication. During his college days, he was the Chapter Director of Students for Free Tibet – Bangalore Chapter. He was responsible for generating and executing campaign, raising awareness on the issue and organizing profile raising events. After completing his studies, he worked for International Tibet Network as an Asia Regional Coordinator for almost two years. He is currently positioned as SFT India’s Programs Coordinator.
Tenzin Choenyi was born in Tibetan refugee settlement in Dharamsala, She did her schooling from Tibetan Children Village school in Dharamsala, She completed her Bachelors in Commerce from Bangalore University. After completing her studies she joined SFT’s Free Tibet Action camp and Tibetan Action Lhakar Academy in 2015. She interned with SFT-India for two months. Currently Choenyi is SFT-India’s Accountant cum Office Manager.
Tenzin Lobsang was born to a Tibetan refugee family in Ladakh and did his schooling from Tibetan Children Village school in India. He completed his Bachelors and Masters in Commerce from Delhi University. During his college days, he was an active member of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress in Delhi. He was a participant in SFT-India’s Free Tibet! Action Camp in 2015, where he took intensive climb action training. He also one of the participants at Tibet Action Institute’s Lhakar Academy in 2015. He joined Students for a Free Tibet-India as Development Associate in 2016.
Students for a Free Tibet was founded in New York City in 1994 by a group of Tibetans and young students and supporters. The concept of SFT was borne from the understanding of the critical role students and young people have played in freedom struggles throughout history.
Since that time, SFT has grown into an international network of students and non-students in more than 35 countries. Today, we have more than 650 high school, university and community chapters and one full-time office in New York City.
Where is Tibet? Why should you help Tibet regain its freedom? What is Tibet like? What really happened when China invaded Tibet? Here is where you can find the answers to some of your questions. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to be an intelligent freedom fighter!
Tibet lies at the center of Asia, with an area of 2.5 million square kilometers. Encircled by the Earth’s highest mountains, Tibet is a vast, arid plateau with an average altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level. The Tibetan plateau has unique and exceptional ecosystems. The headwaters of Asia’s major rivers originate on the Tibetan plateau, which supply 85% of the population of Asia with water—approximately 47% of the world’s population.
Tibet is comprised of the three provinces of Amdo, Kham, and U-Tsang. Amdo is now split by China into the provinces of Qinghai and part of Gansu. Kham is largely incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, and U-Tsang, together with western Kham, is today referred to by China as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
The TAR comprises less than half of historic Tibet and was created by China in 1965 for administrative reasons. It is important to note that when Chinese officials and publications use the term “Tibet” they are referring only to TAR.
Tibetans use the term Tibet to mean the three provinces described above, the area traditionally known as Tibet before the invasion in 1949-50.
Despite over 60 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Tibetan people refuse to be conquered and subjugated by China. The present Chinese policy—a combination of demographic and economic manipulation and discrimination—aims to suppress the Tibetan issue by changing the very character and the identity of Tibet and its people.
Today, Tibetans are outnumbered by Chinese in their own homeland.