Who We Are

MISSION

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.

VISION

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.

VALUES

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.

– His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

International Staff

National Network Staff

Sonam Chokey
SFT-Canada National Director

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 Lees
SFT-UK National Coordinator

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.

Tenzin Tselha
SFT-India National Director

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.

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SFT History

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.

Timeline

2016

2015

2014

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2002 - '03

2000 - '01

1998 - '99

1996 - '97

1994 - '95

  • Xi Jinping shamed in India

    On October 15, despite heavy security, SFT India successfully parachuted a giant banner reading “Free Tibet” on the popular Western Coast of Goa, where the BRICS Summit was held and attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Major international summits provide critical opportunities for challenging China’s occupation of Tibet. Our direct action shamed and created a spotlight on Xi Jinping and China’s hardline policies inside Tibet. When the last thing China wants is any mention of “Tibet” during such a high-stakes summit, with our actions, we were able to make “Tibet” a media focus.

  • Khenpo Kartse released

    We are excited to report that respected teacher and social worker, Khenpo Kartse was released from prison in July. While we know this isn’t freedom yet, as Chinese authorities continue to surveil, harass, and isolate political prisoners even after they are released, we are happy that he can be with his family and community again. Since the day we found out about Khenpo’s arrest in 2013, we have worked to build an international campaign spotlighting Khenpo’s case. We believe, that faced with the potential of a life sentence, our collective international efforts in the early stages played a crucial role in securing a relatively short two and a half year sentence. We are happy that Khenpo Kartse is out of prison and we will continue to monitor his health and circumstances.

  • Tenzin Delek Rinpoche awarded the Democracy Service Medal

    On June 15, the late Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was posthumously awarded the Democracy Service Medal by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the 2010 recipient of the Medal, was the guest of honor at the event along with Members of Congress and Sikyong Lobsang Sangay. SFT’s staff accompanied Geshe Jamyang Nyima, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s cousin and family spokesperson, who received the award on Rinpoche’s behalf, recognizing and honoring his monumental contributions to the Tibetan people. 

  • United Nations Universal Periodic Review

    While the CCP has intensified its divide-and-rule strategies to erode international support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, SFT has been working on lobbying like-­minded governments to join forces and coordinate their efforts to take joint action for Tibet. Since we launched our widely shared ‘Tibet Solution’ video, the Tibetan Freedom Movement has embraced the concept of a multilateral approach to solve the Tibet crisis. In February, in a rare act, embassies of the USA, the EU, Germany, Japan, and Canada sent a joint letter of concern to the Chinese government over draconian new laws governing counter-terrorism, cyber security, and foreign NGOs operating in China. Also, in a major development in our ‘Unite for Tibet’ campaign, the United States and 11 other countries issued an unprecedented joint statement on March 10, during the United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva. We truly believe our collective efforts at the UN have lead to these groundbreaking joint actions and we look forward to the future successes of our continued work.

  • Launch of ‘Stand With Larung Gar’ Campaign

    China’s wide-scale demolition plan for Larung Gar, the world’s largest Buddhist institute, located in Tibet, could not go unchecked. Knowing that this destruction would evict and displace at least half of the 10,000+ residents, SFT responded by launching the #StandWithLarungGar campaign and mobilizing people around the world. Our international grassroots members and networks from 17 countries took part in our Global Day of Action on October 19, with participation from cities like Boston, Dharamsala, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, Vienna, and Washington, DC.

    We also saw public statements of support from US Representatives McGovern and Pitts, and Canadian Member of Provincial Parliament Cheri DiNovo, among others. The wide range of support is evident by our campaign being endorsed by international human rights groups, as well as religious institutes, and Taiwanese, Chinese, Kalmyk, and Mongolian organizations.  

  • Free Tibet! Action Camp XVII in New York 

    SFT organized Free Tibet! Action Camp XVII at Menla Mountain Retreat Center in Phoenicia, New York from June 20 – 26. SFT staff joined movement leaders, workshop trainers, guest speakers, and volunteers in providing a full-scale Free Tibet! Action Camp. Through an intensive week of training and discussion, we were able to equip participants with the knowledge, tools, and networks necessary to become stronger Tibet activists in their respective communities. This year’s Action Camp brought together 32 participants, welcoming folks from Taiwan, Austria, Canada, Chile, India, Nepal, and across the USA.

  • Justice for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche continues

    In July, 2016, Nyima Lhamo, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s niece fled Tibet and arrived in Dharamsala, India. In a press conference in Dharamsala, she made this statement: “I came out of Tibet to speak out to the world about Tulku Tenzin Delek. I urge China to reveal the true circumstances that led to Rinpoche’s death and I hope that China’s allegations against Rinpoche be thoroughly investigated.”

    Since Nyima Lhamo’s arrival, SFT Asia Director Dorjee Tseten has supported her in coordinating international media, translations, preparing messaging, and her testimony for the UN. SFT, as a part of the Tibet Advocacy Coalition, was able to organize a meeting with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Torture to testify for her uncle’s case, the 13 years of torture he suffered, his suspicious death in Chinese detention, and her own persecution by the Chinese government.

  • Free Shokjang: The Might of the Pen

    On February 17, after being arbitrarily detained for almost a year, 32­-year-old Tibetan writer and intellectual, Druklo (pen­name Shokjang) was sentenced to three years in Chinese prison. His only ‘crime’ was writing courageously about the effects of China’s policies in Tibet. We immediately launched the website FreeShokjang.org and created a petition calling on leaders of the G20 countries to publicly raise Shokjang’s case with the Chinese government and ask for his immediate release. On May 3, ‘World Press Freedom Day’ we launched a ‘Global Day of Action’ to mobilize grassroots support for his case and on November 15, ‘International Day of Imprisoned Writer,’ we teamed up with Pen America, Human Rights China, and Uyghur American Association to engage in a multi-organizational push to highlight the extent of China’s blatant repression of freedom of expression and press. Today, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, and PEN International are among the numerous respected human rights groups who join us in amplifying Shokjang’s voice and calling on his immediate release.

  • Tibet’s Rivers, Asia’s Lifeline

    On September 23, our India network hosted a seminar titled ‘Damming Crisis in Tibet: Threat to Water Security in Asia’, bringing together panelists and participants from India, Bangladesh, Tibet, Thailand, the USA, Switzerland and Germany – the very first of its kind. Over 150 participants from key stakeholders in Asia’s rivers were in attendance, including environmentalists, activists, researchers, media, and embassy officials representing the USA, Switzerland and Germany. The seminar secured wide media coverage in The Indian Express, Business Insider and Voice of America. The rivers campaign has created new cross-sections between the Tibetan Freedom Movement and the global movement for environmental protection.

    Visit SaveTibetanRivers.org for details.

  • Tibet Activists​ ‘Reclaim Tibet’

    This year, we commemorated February 13, Tibetan Independence Day with the theme of ‘Reclaim Tibet’ to highlight the historical map of Tibet and to expose the map of China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region that almost entirely ignores the Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo. ‘Reclaim Tibet’ became viral in the Tibetan world, with over 12,000 people taking action to reclaim Tibet within weeks of the launch of our website: ReclaimTibet.com

    ‘Reclaim Tibet’ highlighted how the 2008 Uprising, spreading to all three traditional provinces, reasserted the territorial map of Tibet.

  • Tibet Lobby Day

    SFT helped coordinate the 8th Annual Tibet Lobby Day from February 29 – March 1 in Washington, DC. Over 100 Tibetans and supporters from across the country, many of whom are SFT members, took part in this event and met with Members of Congress and staffers of over 120 offices. In our meetings, we sought continued and increased support by raising awareness about the current situation in Tibet, and asked Representatives to take action by signing onto the ‘Reciprocal Access to Tibet’ bill (H.R. 1112), among other things. This particular legislation would restrict Chinese leaders’ access to the United States, thus holding them “accountable” if China continues to ban US citizens access to Tibet, including officials, diplomats, and journalists planning to assess the human rights situation.

  • Say ‘No’ to Confucius Institute

    As part of building wider and diverse support for our Say “No” to Confucius Institute (CI) campaign, SFT presented our victories and future plans on CI at the International Tibet Support Group Conference in Brussels. The conference is an important space for Tibet activists and leaders to come together to skillshare, engage in detailed strategic planning, and implement global campaigns. This particular conference brought over 250 prominent activists together from across the world. Our presentation was met with overwhelming support and was voted the number one campaign for groups to implement. We look forward to continuing our engagement with these groups in an effort to stop CI propaganda and censorship.

  • Marvel Studio’s ‘Doctor Strange’

    Out of fear of what China might think, Marvel removed the Tibetan identity of one of its main characters in their new film, Doctor Strange. Named ‘Ancient One,’ the originally Tibetan character in the comics, was replaced by Tilda Swinton in the film. Responding to concerns about the identity change, screenwriter C. Robert Cargill gave this problematic statement: “[Ancient One] originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bulls—t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.” In response to this, SFT organized a protest outside a Manhattan movie theater, which was covered by NBC Asia America and BuzzFeed, to convey to Mr. Cargill that Tibetans and Tibet do exist in spite of China’s occupation.

  • Panchen Lama’s 27th Birthday 

    In July, China held a state-controlled Kalachakra led by the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu, while Tibet’s Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, appointed by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama continues to be a prisoner of more than 21 years. Authorities reportedly went as far as making it mandatory for each Tibetan household to send two members to the Chinese government’s Kalachakra. In response to China’s attempt to exert political and social control over Tibetans through sacred religious rituals, which are an integral part of Tibetan life, SFT held an event in Dharamsala and a virtual counter-event titled “A Kalachakra by Tibet’s Panchen Lama – Our Vision” at the same time as the ‘fake’ Kalachakra prayer was enforced in Tibet by Chinese Communist Regime. SFT also released a new animated video in honor of his 27th birthday as a way to counter China’s propaganda. The moving video, addressed to the Panchen Lama, exposes China’s abduction of the 6-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and urges supporters to sign the petition calling for his release. The video was widely shared with more than 63,000 views. 

  • #TibetFlagChallenge

    SFT’s #TibetFlagChallenge went viral, with participants from at least 48 cities in 18 countries showcasing the Tibetan flag in their own unique ways. This challenge was in commemoration of the third annual Tibetan Independence Day, on February 13, 2015. The flag, which is banned in Tibet and China, is an enduring symbol of the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom and independence, and through the #TibetFlagChallenge, participants were able to secure this symbol in our efforts to shape our future of a free Tibet. 

  • Free Tibet! Action Camp in Australia

    SFT organized the first-ever “Free Tibet! Action Camp” in Australia at The Karuna Centre in Sydney, Australia. With a growing community of Tibetans from Tibet and India who are former political prisoners or family of political prisoners, Australia provided an incredible opportunity to empower and strengthen the Tibetan community’s activism and enhance their skill set and seed knowledge of critical strategies, tools and tactics. The week-long leadership training program was attended by 33 participants – Tibetans originally from Tibet and India, and youth from across Australia, India, Taiwan, Thailand and Lithuania.

  • Tenzin Delek Lives Campaign 

    On July 12, we received the tragic news of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death under suspicious circumstances in Chinese prison. SFT responded immediately by coordinating with Rinpoche’s family in Tibet through the help of Geshe Nyima (Rinpoche’s cousin and family spokesperson in Dharamshala, India) and putting pressure on the Chinese government by spotlighting Rinpoche’s death through articles on Reuters, the New York Times, Associated Press and other media outlets. 

    We held a memorial and tribute to celebrate Rinpoche’s life and achievements and to re-energize the work – Tibetan rights, environmental protection, promotion of Tibetan religion and culture – that he spent 13 years in prison for. A new website, justicefortenzin.org was launched, a 6-city “Tenzin Delek Lives” speaking tour with Geshe Nyima and SFT Asia Director, Dorjee Tseten was organized, and all this momentum led to a show of force in Washington, DC during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit. (see on other page)

  • Action at Xi Jinping’s book launch 

    A week before Xi Jinping’s first state visit to Washington, DC, on September 25th, SFT’s Pema Yoko and Tibet Action Institute’s Lhadon Tethong confronted Guo Weimin, the Vice Minister of China’s State Council Information Office (propaganda arm of the Politburo), at Xi Jinping’s book launch. In the packed bookstore, Pema and Lhadon publicly asked about the legitimacy of Xi’s book and whether it contained the Tibetan self-immolations or the detention of Chinese lawyers. The video of the book store confrontation has already been viewed more than 78,000 times on facebook.

  • Protesting Xi Jinping’s first state visit 

    On the day of the Xi Jinping’s Washington DC visit, on September 25, our protest in front of the White House was loud enough to be heard during the live telecast of the press conference. As people around the world tuned to watch the press conference, they could hear our “Free Tibet” chants in the background as President Obama and Xi spoke. President Obama publicly raised Tibet with Xi when he said, “we continue to encourage Chinese authorities to preserve the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people and to engage the Dalai Lama or his representatives.” 

  • SFT Canada Named “Best Activist Group” in NOW Magazine 2015 

    For the second year in a row, SFT-Canada received the 2015 NOW Magazine Best of Toronto Readers Choice Poll for “Best Activist Group with a Non-Local Cause”. 

  • Confucius Institute Terminated in Stuttgart Media University 

    The Chinese government backed Confucius Institute (CI) at the Stuttgart Media University in Germany was shut down in June, marking the first shutdown of its kind in Germany following the April 23rd launch of SFT’s global “Say No to China’s Confucius Institutes” campaign, urging educational institutions to terminate ties to Confucius Institutes in order to protect our students from China’s propaganda on Tibet. This is the 9th closure of the Chinese government backed program worldwide since 2004. 

  • HH the Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday 

    SFT organized a celebration for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday with music, art and poetry to honor his monumental contributions and to encourage people to join the struggle for Tibetan freedom. We created postcards that were mailed out to our supporters, featuring the painting “80 Portraits” by Tibetan artist Ngawang Jorden.

  • Tibet’s Rivers, Asia’s Lifeline 

    SFT-India’s new campaign, ‘Tibet’s Rivers, Asia’s Lifeline’ was launched on March 22, World Water Day. It highlights the crisis caused by China’s damming and diversion of Tibet’s rivers and pollution from mining, which impacts 2 billion people in downstream countries. The campaign launched a petition calling on the leaders of downstream countries to jointly call for a Trans-boundary Water Sharing Treaty to protect Tibet’s rivers and save Asia’s lifeline.

  • Tibet Lobby at the United Nations  

    This year saw stronger lobbying at the United Nations as we authored and submitted a report to the United Nations Committee against Torture and held a side event at the United Nations in Geneva during the Human Rights Council Session, which was attended by various UN diplomats, highlighting the Chinese government’s systematic use of torture in Tibetan prisons and spotlighting Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s unjust death in Chinese custody. We received confirmation from UN Special Rapporteur against Torture, Juan Mendez that he would send a letter to the Chinese government inquiring about the circumstances around Rinpoche’s death.

  • In twenty years, SFT has grown into a formidable force against the goliath of Chinese occupation and oppressive rule. Through the training of youth leaders, cultivation of an international network of chapters, implementation of hard-hitting campaigns and high-profile, non-violent direct actions, SFT is changing the global discourse on Tibet.
  • SFT celebrates its 20th anniversary by honoring 20 activists who have made groundbreaking contributions to the Tibetan Freedom Movement.
  • Lhakar: Supporting Nonviolent Resistance in Tibet
    SFT has led the effort to promote Lhakar, the homegrown Tibetan noncooperation and self-reliance movement, by encouraging individuals and communities around the world to organize weekly solidarity actions on Wednesday, the Dalai Lama’s ‘soul day’ and an auspicious day for lhakartimessquare2.jpgTibetans. Lhakar is now being practiced in over 20 cities around the world including Paris, Dharamsala, London, Toronto, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Mexico City, Santa Fe, etc. SFT staff provided analyses and commentaries on the new civil resistance in Tibet on Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, news sites and blogs.
  • Advanced the Support for Multilateral Action for Tibet
    In response to the wave of self-immolations, SFT has mobilized its members to Stand Up for Tibet by securing support from influential figures and elected representatives for stronger, coordinated international action to pressure the Chinese government to end the failed policies that are driving the self-immolations in Tibet. Through creative tactics including street protests, direct actions, letter-writing, guerilla lobbying, phone-a-thons, and multi-media campaigns, our call for world governments to unite for Tibet is being heard and acted upon in the halls of political power. SFT networks in France, India, UK and Canada met with their Parliaments and Foreign Ministries to urge for multilateral action on Tibet.
  • Xi Jinping’s Tibet challenge
    As China’s new leader landed on US soil in February, SFT members rappelled off a landmark bridge in Washington, DC and unfurled a giant banner reading “Xi Jinping: Tibet will be free.” The action was carried live on US network news and kicked off a series of creative protests during Xi’s high-profile visit. This fall, as Xi ascended to power, SFT joined key Tibet groups in releasing the report, “Xi’s Tibet Challenge”, linking China’s incoming president to 60 years of policy failures and the self-immolation protests in Tibet. A parody video of the Korean hit pop-song called “Xi’s Tibet Challenge: Gangnam Style,” released on the eve of China’s leadership handover, racked up over 40,000 YouTube views. It was covered by Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, the New York Times blog, Times of India and other mainstream global media.
  • The Global Tibet Lobby Force 2012
    In March, SFT joined Tibet groups and Tibetan associations for the largest-ever Lobby Day in Washington, DC. Over a hundred Tibetans and supporters met with US Members of Congress, urging them to pressure China to stop the crackdown in Tibet. Within a week, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning China’s failed policies in Tibet, and Voice of America’s Tibetan Radio Service was saved from crippling budget cuts. SFT members also took part in Lobby Days in London, UK; Ottawa, Canada; New Delhi, India; Brussels, European Union; and the first-ever Lobby Day in Canberra, Australia.
  • Focusing Global Media Attention on Tibet Crisis
    TDonAljazeera6.jpgIn November, SFT’s Executive Director Tendor joined Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay on Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” to discuss the root cause of the Tibetan self- immolations, followed by a feature interview on NTDTV in December examining the spike in self-immolations. The 30-min Al Jazeera episode was one of the only mainstream media programs to give in-depth coverage to the Tibetan at this recent time. Deputy Director Tendolkar also appeared on WGBY’s Connecting Point to discuss the Tibet crisis. SFT published opinion articles and letters on the Tibet issue in the Foreign Policy Blog, Global Post, Huffington Post and CNN Blog, which profiled Tendor’s defense of the Dalai Lama’s position on the Tibetan self-immolations. SFT staff have done scores of interviews with Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, Voice of Tibet and other media on issues ranging from nonviolent strategy to digital activism to secure communications.
  • SFT Eludes Indian Security to Protest Hu Jintao
    During out-going Chinese President Hu Jintao’s trip to India in March, Tibetan exiles in Delhi faced the harshest security clampdown in decades. SFT members managed to evade the preemptive arrests and carried out a series of high profile direct action protests during the three-day visit. National Director Dorjee Tsetan joined veteran Indian diplomats and analysts on prime-time TV to advocate greater Indian support for Tibet.
  • UN Stands Up for Tibet
    In a briefing session with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, SFT’s Deputy Director Tendolkar and International Director Kate Woznow directly questioned her on Tibet and appealed for her support in response to the self- immolation protests. A week later, Ms. Pillay issued a landmark statement condemning China’s repression; it remains the strongest stand taken by the UN on the Tibet crisis to date.
  • Leadership Trainings and Activist Tools
    SFT held leadership and strategic nonviolence trainings for hundreds of Tibetans, students, and activists in Dharamsala, San Francisco, Amherst, Toronto, Delhi, London, Edinburgh. Tibet Action translated nonviolence literature into Tibetan, including “Bringing Down A Dictator”. Many tutorial videos produced by Tibet Action have become hugely popular among the Tibetan public.
  • SFT Protests Hu Jintao in Hong Kong
    SFT members from Taiwan traveled to Hong Kong in July to protest Hu Jintao, who was there to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. Jun-shan Fong, president of SFT Taiwan, along with Xiaolong and Chengshin, joined other Tibet supporters and thousands of Chinese rights advocates in Hong Kong on Saturday and Sunday, to demand an end to China’s crackdown. They carried Tibetan flags and a banner that read: “Free Tibet, Free China.”.
  • Training Tibetans to Communicate Securely
    In 2012, the Tibet Action Institute, a Special Project of SFT trained over a hundred monks, activists and connectors in India in secure communications and mobile technology to allow for the safer and faster flow of information in and out of Tibet. Tibet Action staff launched “Safe Travels Online, a popular series of tutorial videos featuring simple steps to online security.
  • Relaunched ‘Our Nation: News & Analysis on the State of Tibet’
    In April, SFT launched the second season of the online current news program Our Nation: News & Analysis on the State of Tibet featuring SFT’s Tendor and Tibet Action Institute’s Lhadon Tethong in order to provide comprehensive analysis and commentary on the current situation in Tibet.
  • Launch of the “Reclaiming History” Campaign
    On February 13th, 1913, the Tibetan government proclaimed the restoration of Tibetan independence, following a brief invasion by Manchu troops. This spring, SFT launched the “Reclaiming History” campaign to mark this significant event. SFT made a 12- foot-long re-creation of the proclamation scroll, held unfurling ceremonies in dozens of cities including Dharamsala, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Toronto, etc. Hundreds of copies of the Proclamation were distributed around the world, encouraging people to celebrate Feb 13, 2013 as Tibetan Independence Day.
  • Opposing China’s Canada takeover
    This fall, SFT Canada protested the major takeover of a Canadian oil company by a Chinese state-owned firm that is heavily funding China’s forced resettlement of Tibetan nomads. The deal was eventually approved. But a week later, after dozens of protests, hundreds of calls and emails to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Canadian government broke its silence and issued a strong statement on the Tibetan self-immolations.
  • Urged Congress to Endorse Letter to Obama on Tibet
    58 Members of Congress signed onto the landmark letter for Tibet introduced by Congressmen Frank Wolf and Jim McGovern, following a hectic week of mobilization during which SFT grassroots and Tibetans called, emailed, and visited their Congressional Representatives to urge them to sign on to the letter. The letter, which calls on President Obama to take a stronger international lead in resolving the spiraling crisis in Tibet, was submitted to the White House this week.
  • Tibet Action Institute
    The Tibet Action team is continuing its groundbreaking work to develop and deploy new technology, training, and education tools to enhance online security and Internet Freedom in Tibet. Tibet Action has launched “Safe Travels Online” an online security public awareness campaign featuring videos designed to educate Tibetans and Tibet supporters on safer web and communications practices.
  • January: SFT and other US-based Tibetan organizations held three days of protests in Washington, DC as Chinese President Hu Jintao made his first official state visit. The creative, non-stop protests were widely covered by domestic and international media.
  • February: First-ever national conferences held in Taiwan and Japan.
  • Losar 2138: New Year. New Generation. New Hope.
  • March: March 10th Uprisings commemorated across the globe.
  • Tibet Lobby Days held in Washington, DC, USA, and Ottawa, Canada. Over the year, National Tibet Lobby Days were held in London, UK; Sydney, Australia; New Delhi, India; and Japan.
  • July: SFTHQ staff and volunteers spent ten days at the Kalachakra teachings in Washington, DC, and hosted talks on Lhakar, Nomad Rights, and campaigned for the release of prominent Tibetan political prisoners through the Free Tibetan Heroes campaign.
  • August: 40 participants from eight countries attend Free Tibet! Action Camp XIV in Germany, organized in collaboration with Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE).
    SFT’s 4th Longsho night is held in New York.
  • September: Nomad Rights campaign was launched with a week of protests at the UN during the opening of the General Assembly, where Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was in attendance.
  • SFTHQ leaders met Nepalese Prime Minister Bhattarai and mobilized our global grassroots network, effectively combining private diplomacy and public pressure to secure the safe passage to India of 23 Tibetan refugees, who were detained when escaping from Tibet.
  • October: Free Tibet! Action Camp XV in India
  • Art for Tibet III is hosted at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York City.
  • Enough! Global Intervention Now to Save Tibetan Lives campaign is launched in collaboration with International Tibet Network; a response to the unprecedented string of self-immolations in Tibet.
  • November: Enough! Global Intervention Now to Save Tibetan Lives campaign held a Global Day of Action, where over 100 creative actions were carried out in over 65 cities across the world; the largest day of action since the 2008 Beijing Olympic protests. On the eve of the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, members of SFT and Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE) rappelled off the Cannes train station, unfurling protest banners and Tibetan flags to demand G20 leaders pressure China to stop the crackdown in Tibet.
  • December: International Human Rights Day Actions on December 10th occur in NYC, London, and Canada.
  • SFT Japan holds its first-ever Tibet Lobby Day.
  • From March – December 2011, 12 Tibetans self-immolated in an act of protest against China’s repressive rule in Tibet.
  • St. Regis Lhasa Resort opened its doors in November 2010, becoming the first luxury hotel in Lhasa, and the Intercontinental and Shangri-la hotels announced similar plans shortly thereafter. In 2011, SFT contacted luxury hotel company executives and property owners to express concern over the operation of luxury hotels in an occupied country, posed questions at the companies’ annual shareholders meetings, and SFT’s senior staff recently met with St. Regis’ executives.
  • January: The “I Am Tibetan” initiative is launched, promoting creative new ways for Tibetans to assert their identity and culture.
  • Action Camp 11Google began to redirect their internet users in China’s mainland and Tibet to their uncensored search engine in Hong Kong, marking a victory for freedom of knowledge everywhere.
  • March: The second annual Lobby Day is held in Washington DC, and in the UK. SFT members meet with Congressional Representatives from over 20 different states, and with members of Parliament.
  • April: The Kyigudo earthquake strikes eastern Tibet; SFT directs their support to aid groups and organizing a grassroots campaign to recognize the earthquake epicenter as “Tibet,” rather than “China”.
  • SFT’s first speaking tour in Australia is organized, catalyzing the start of SFT’s Australian network.
  • June: SFT’s Renaissance Series is launched to amplify essentially everything that has been banned in Tibet – including artwork, poetry, books, etc. Since its creation, The Renaissance Series has hosted a monthly event to highlight the banned works of Tibetan poets, intellectuals and musicians.
  • SFT assisted in coordinating the global release of video footage of an imprisoned nomad leader Runggye Adak’s famous speech made in 2007, which called for the return of HHDL to Tibet.
  • SFT Canada protests China Gold, and escalates the efforts to stop mining in Tibet.
  • Language RightsJuly: SFT projects an image of Kalsang Tsultrim on the Chinese Consulate. Approximately 42,000 signatures were collected at the gathering, calling for the release of political prisoner, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.
  • September: Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, attends the opening of the UN General Assembly. SFT projects on Wen’s hotel wall images of a live Twitter feed, broadcasting messages sent by Tibetans and supporters from all around the world to Wen Jiabao.
  • During the Chinese government’s “Tibet Week” propaganda campaign, SFT led global efforts to expose China’s cultural repression in Tibet at the Shanghai World Expo.
  • October: Over 45 Tibetan and Indian students take part in “Free Tibet! Action Camp XII,” held in Dharamsala, India.
  • SFT pressures the Nepalese government, organizing emergency protests against Nepal’s decision to forcibly repatriate Tibetan refugees. During the Tibetan parliamentary elections, the Nepalese police confiscated hundreds of ballots cast by Tibetans in Nepal.
  • Leading Tibetan intellectual, Tagyal – pen name Shogdung – and writer, Kelsang Tsultrim, are released from prison. Their cases had been highlighted around the world as part of the Renaissance Series program.
  • December: On Human Rights Day, SFT teamed up with a coalition of human rights groups and took action to free Liu Xiaobo and call for the release of Tibetan heroes by holding a press conference in honor of Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize.
  • SFT launches the Tibet Action Institute, a project focusing on the development of cutting-edge technology, training programs, and visionary strategies for the Tibetan struggle.
  • SFT, in collaboration with the International Tibet Support Network, launches the Free Tibetan Heroes campaign highlighting China’s unjust detainment of countless Tibetans who participated in the 2008 Uprising, and works to set Tibetan political prisoners free.
  • January/February: SFT hosts regional trainings for Tibet activists in Amherst, New York City, Madison, and San Francisco.
  • February: SFT launches “Our Nation: News and Analysis on the State of Tibet”, a YouTube channel aimed at marking the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
  • March: SFT works with the International Campaign for Tibet to organize the first ever Tibet Lobby Day in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in order to thank and strengthen relations with the government representatives.
  • The “Profiles in Courage” campaign is launched; everyday, a Tibetan individual was honored for their demonstrated courage in the Tibetan freedom struggle. By March 10th, 50 Tibetans had been profiled to raise awareness about the 50th anniversary of the March 10th uprising.
  • SFT holds a strategic nonviolence workshop for a group of 35 Tibetan monk activists in Bylakuppe, India.
  • June: Tibetan resilience and global pressure forced a Chinese mining company to close a hazardous, toxic mining operation in Markham, Tibet. The victory bolstered SFT’s Stop Mining Tibet campaign.
  • August: SFT holds their first Training-for-Trainers workshop in New York for a group of 25 young, visionary SFT members.
  • October: On October 1st, the Empire State building in New York City lit up in red and yellow to honor the founding of China. SFT organized two widely publicized rallies in front of the building, and projected an image of the Tibetan flag onto surrounding buildings, along with the message “NY Hearts Human Rights”.
  • The 3rd SFT Leadership Training is held in Dharamsala, India, providing training in nonviolent activism, grassroots organizing, and media communication skills for 30 young Tibetan organizers.
  • Just prior to Obama’s first presidential visit to China, SFT helps collect information about developments in Dhondup Wangchen’s case for the New York Times, resulting in a featured article.
  • December: SFT begins working with a number of coalitions under the Tibet Third Pole campaign to promote awareness about the rapid increase in temperature on the Tibetan Plateau and the impact of climate change.
  • A team of SFT organizers from the United Kingdom, Germany and France attended the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, demanding a voice for Tibetans in global discussions regarding climate change.
  • After peaceful protests in Lhasa marking the March 10th 1959 Tibetan national uprising erupted into a new popular uprising that rippled across Tibet, Tibetans and their supporters redoubled their Olympic-year efforts.
  • Tibetans lit the Tibetan Freedom Torch in Olympia, Greece, and sent the torch on its own relay around the world. A short time later, Tibetans returned to Olympia and staged bold protests at the lighting of China’s Olympic torch. It marked the beginning of vigorous protests of the international leg of the Olympic torch relay. SFT also targeted Coca-Cola and other torch relay sponsors with massive grassroots campaigns.
  • In San Francisco, SFT activists captured the world’s attention with a daring action when they climbed the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge and unfurled a massive banner proclaiming China’s official Olympics slogan “One World, One Dream” and another banner with our answer: “Free Tibet.” The dramatic action makes global headlines and news footage is broadcast live worldwide. At least two Olympic torchbearers make bold statements in support of Tibet during their run with the torch.
  • On March 10th, the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement, based in Dharamsala, India, also commences a Return March to Tibet, with one hundred marchers vowing to march back to Tibet. The march quickly grew to many hundreds.
  • Olympics victory. Despite the Chinese government’s best efforts to host an ‘incident-free’ Games, 70 SFT members successfully staged 8 high-profile non-violent protests in Beijing; 55 were detained and deported, 10 of whom were jailed for up to 6 days. Through these inspiring nonviolent direct actions and the mobilization of thousands of supporters, SFT was able to keep Tibet in the global spotlight and show China’s current and future leaders that the Tibet issue must be resolved before China can ever be truly accepted as a global leader.
  • April: Four Tibetan independence activists, including SFT’s Deputy Director at the time, Tendor, were detained by Chinese authorities on April 25th after demonstrating and unfurling a banner reading “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008” in English, and “Free Tibet” in Tibetan and Chinese, at Mount Everest’s main base camp in Tibet. China was preparing to run the Olympic torch up to the summit of Mount Everest, and Tibet activists beat them to it. Tendor became the first known Tibetan to return to Tibet to carry out a nonviolent protest.
  • August 2007, One Year Countdown to the Beijing Games: One year before the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lhadon Tethong, SFT’s Executive Director traveled to Beijing to speak out against China’s occupation of Tibet. From her blog Beijing Wide Open she openly challenged the Chinese government’s Olympics propaganda and claims over Tibet.
  • On the eve of the one-year countdown celebrations a team of six SFT members unfurled a 450 square foot banner on the Great Wall of China reading “One World, One Dream: Free Tibet 2008.” Our on-site communications team was able to break through China’s “Great Fire Wall” and upload images of the action to the Internet in real time.
  • SFT Campaigned against increased religious restrictions: SFT mobilized our online action network to campaign for the release of Runggye Adak, a nomad father of 11 children sentenced to eight years in prison for publicly calling for the return of the Dalai Lama. In October 2007, at the Dalai Lama’s Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in DC, SFT distributed 5,000 postcards protesting China’s new law to control the recognition of reincarnated Buddhist teachers.
  • SFT holds Free Tibet Action Camp VIII in Dharamsala India, IX in San Diego, California, and, X in Dharamsala India.
  • On July 1, 2006 the inauguration of the Gormo Lhasa Railway 3 Free Tibet Activists unfurled a banner over the Beijing railway station reading, “China’s Tibet Railway: Designed to Destroy.” Tibetans inside and outside Tibet oppose the Gormo Lhasa Railway on the grounds that it is a tool Beijing will use to overwhelm the Tibetan population, exploit Tibet’s resources, dilute Tibetan culture and devastate the Tibetan environment.
  • SFT organized global protests to highlight the Nangpa la massacre. On September 30, 2006, 75 Tibetans, among them many children, and their two guides were crossing the Tibet-Nepal border to flee from persecution when the police opened fire on the group, killing Kelsang Namtso, a 17 year old nun. Kunsang Namgyal, a 23 year old man, was hit in the leg twice, and then taken away by the Chinese border police. For the first time this event was witnessed by European mountaineers and captured on video.
  • SFT holds Free Tibet! Action Camp VII in Dusseldorf, Germany.
  • Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is saved but not free. After two years of advocacy and activism by SFT and thousands of people around the world, Chinese authorities commuted Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death sentence to a life in prison.
  • SFT begins a world wide campaign targeting the Canadian corporation Bombardier for supplying the Chinese government with specialized technology needed to build a rail link connecting Tibet with China. By partnering the Chinese government on the construction of the railway, Bombardier has made themselves partners in China’s occupation of Tibet.
  • SFT India became formally part of the SFT international Family. From a very humble beginning as a loose network of young activists and students based in Dharamshala campaigning for Tibet’s Independence, SFT India has grown as nation-wide network of youth, campaigning for the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people.
  • Students for a Free Tibet turns ten! To mark this milestone, SFT celebrated the incredible achievements of all the young people worldwide who have made the Tibet movement a force to be reckoned with. The anniversary is bittersweet though, as it reminds all of us that Tibet remains occupied. So, in addition to celebrating, we are marking SFTs tenth birthday by setting in motion a plan to put ourselves out of business before another decade goes by. But no matter how long it takes, we will never give up. Tibet will be free.
  • New Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao faces protestors on his first visit to the United States and Canada. While speaking at Harvard University he is interrupted by an SFT member who asks him about Tibet
  • SFT organizes an international day of action calling for the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche that targets nineteen Chinese embassies and consulates, including the consulate in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Phuntsok Nyidron, the last of the Drapchi 14 nuns still imprisoned, is released a year before the end of her sentence.
  • SFT holds 2nd SFT Canada conference in Toronto.
  • SFT holds 5th annual Free Tibet! Action Camp in New York
  • Ngawang Choephel, the focus of one of SFT’s first political prisoner campaigns, is released nearly 12 years before the end of his sentence– arrested for documenting traditional Tibetan music and culture, Ngawang was the beneficiary of more letters of support from Congress than anyone previously, according to Chinese officials
  • SFT organizes ‘Mobilization for Tibet’, a week of powerful demonstrations and civil disobedience in DC to draw attention to Tibet just prior to President Bush’s first-ever visit to China
  • Nawang Sangdrol, longest-serving of the imprisoned ‘Drapchi 14’ nuns is released by the Chinese government under intense pressure from SFT and other Tibet Support Groups– she is later released to the United States
  • Bowing to international pressure, China releases over a dozen high-profile Tibetan political prisoners within a year and a half
  • Reacting to an execution of a Tibetan political prisoner, Lobsang Dhondup, SFT coordinates nonviolent direct actions at Chinese Consulates and Embassies in 18 cities, in 9 countries, on 4 continents and launches campaign to free Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
  • 3rd and 4th annual Free Tibet! Action Camps are held in Bloomington, IN and Woodstock, NY, respectively– training over 100 SFTers, the vast majority of them young Tibetans
  • First-ever SFT Canada Conference held in Calgary
  • SFT holds two SFT-Europe Conferences, bringing dozens of Tibetans and supporters from across Europe to London for training and strategizing
  • SFT grows to over 650 chapters in 35 countries around the world, including Brazil, Nigeria, Poland, and Norway
  • The 1st Free Tibet! Action Camp brings students from all over the world meet to learn the skills and strategies that will allow them to take a lead in the Tibetan freedom movement
  • In coalition with others, SFT disrupts the IPO of PetroChina, the main operating subsidiary of China’s biggest oil company, taking $7 billion from the expected earnings of $10 billion
  • In an unprecedented victory, a multi-faceted campaign led by SFT successfully blocks a World Bank project that would have financed the resettlement of 58,000 Chinese colonists into Tibet– actions inluded lobbying, fax and e-mail actions, a banner-hang on the Bank itself, strategic media outreach and a week-long encampment in front of the Bank
  • SFT organizes demonstrations at the UN in response to the exclusion of the Dalai Lama from the Millenium Peace Summit and the visits of Li Peng and Jiang Zemin
  • Sponsored by SFT and Rangzen Alliance, the “Rangzen Roadshow,” tours North America to educate Tibetan communities and students about economic action and strategy
  • SFT launches a high-profile campaign opposing Beijing’s bid for the 2008 Olympics, including actions in Beijing and Moscow
  • SFT files a shareholder resolution urging BP to divest from PetroChina. Shareholders representing over $5 billion in assets vote in favor of the resolution
  • SFT grows to more than 600 chapters in over 30 countries
  • 100 students attend 2nd annual Free Tibet! Action Camp
  • SFT grows to 450 chapters and becomes an independent organization.
  • World Bank BannerSFT participates in the 3rd Tibetan Freedom Concert in Washington D.C.
  • SFT joins ICT and Milarepa Fund in a National Day of Action for Tibet which brings 15,000 people to the Capitol lawn.
  • In D.C., SFT organizes grassroots lobbying and innovative direct action to keep attention on Tibet as President Clinton leaves for historic summit in China.
  • Across North America, SFTers organize high-profile demonstrations during the visits of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and President Jiang Zemin.
  • SFT participates in the 2nd Tibetan Freedom Concert in New York City.
  • SFT takes the lead in a campaign to stop World Bank China-Tibet project.
  • Hundreds of SFTers gather in Seattle to protest China’s entry into the WTO, joining 50,000 people in successfully derailing WTO Ministerial in historic upset for corporate globalization.
  • SFT participates in the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco, which exposes over 100,000 people to the Tibetan cause
  • With the Milarepa Fund and ICT, SFT joins a month-long Tibetan Freedom Tour to raise awareness and provide training to students across the U.S.
  • SFT and Milarepa Fund’s high-profile boycott of Holiday Inn and parent company Bass PLC ends in a campaign victory when Holiday Inn ends its’ partnership with the Chinese Government
  • SFT holds 2nd and 3rd annual National Conference, at Brown University and University of Wisconsin, respectively
  • SFT grows to over 250 chapters, and expands internationally to Europe, Asia and South America
  • SFT formed in August of 1994 as a project of U.S. Tibet Committee and the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)
  • 75 SFT chapters quickly spring up across the country, doubling to nearly 150 within two years
  • SFT arranges the first student meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Harvard University
  • Scores of students gather for the 1st annual SFT National Conference at Oberlin University


2016 Year in Review

Check out our 2016 Year in Review to see what we’ve been up to this past year.

2016 Year in Review


Past Year in Reviews

All available past Annual Reports and Financial Reports can be found here.

Annual and Financial Reports

About Tibet

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.

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