Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) 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 four full-time staff at our Headquarters in New York, and staff at our National offices in India and Canada.
SFT has campaigned for and helped secure the safe release of Shokjang and numerous other political prisoners, and led campaigns that have cost the Chinese Government billions of dollars. Whenever Chinese leaders visit other countries, whenever China hopes to solicit foreign funding for their genocidal projects in Tibet, and whenever China tries to cover up the truth about Tibet, SFT is there!
In 2017, SFT hosted Momo Crawl in Toronto, Canada and New York, United States. Not only are Toronto and New York home to two of the largest populations of Tibetan and Himalayan communities in North America, but they are buzzing with food enthusiasts of all backgrounds. Through these events, we were able to introduce thousands of people to Tibet’s rich culture, giving us a platform to engage them on Tibet’s history and current status as one of the least free countries in the world.
This year, we commemorated February 13, Tibetan Independence Day, with ‘Celebrate Potala’ as a theme to mark the Potala Palace’s historical importance and to highlight the Tibetan people’s vision for a free and democratic Tibet. ‘Celebrate Potala’ highlighted the Potala Palace as home to the Dalai Lama and Tibet’s independent government for centuries until China’s military invasion in 1959.
Today, the Chinese government uses the Potala Palace in tourist campaigns, as a means to bring revenue to themselves, and further commodify Tibetan historical artifacts and locations for their own gain. China is systematically destroying and suppressing the very community that is the source of such historic and cultural artifacts and monuments. This year, over 15 cities around the world joined our Tibetan Independence Day Campaign.
In December, SFT Canada launched a campaign calling on the Toronto Transit Committee (TTC) to remove pro-China subway advertisements paid for by the Chinese embassy. There were multiple ads on the Toronto City Transit System depicting Tibet as a backward region modernized by China with the tagline “Old Culture, New Tibet.” By holding protests, phone call actions, and attending the TTC meeting, SFT Canada was able to expose the Chinese government’s insidious attempts to spread their propaganda in the Toronto’s Subway System. SFT Canada was able to bring city-wide media and public attention to China’s propaganda, and make the Toronto Transit System more accountable for its advertisements, which resulted in the TTC promising to review its ad policy for the future at a board meeting attended and covered widely by media specifically on this issue.
Kalsang Nangpa, a Tibetan-American student and President of the SFT chapter at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, graduated in April of 2017. As part of the “Parade of Nations” segment of her university’s graduation, Kalsang was prepared to carry her national Tibetan flag, but after filling out the required application, was told that Tibet was not a recognized ‘country’, and thus her flag would not be allowed during the parade. Hearing this, she took further action and reached out to various departments, and the SFT headquarters in New York for support. We were able to help her initiate a major media campaign, and within weeks, countless national and regional news media published and covered her story. In the end, although she was unable to receive permission to carry her flag during the official parade, she was able to carry it during the event when she went to receive her degree, reassured by dozens of family members, Tibetans, and supporters in the audience who also waved the Tibetan flag.
The annual ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ award is given to Tibetan human rights defenders who show deep commitment to enhancing the freedom and rights of the Tibetan people, even at great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection to such individuals through international recognition. The award was presented on July 12, 2017, marking the 2nd anniversary of the untimely death of Tibetan spiritual leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche while in Chinese custody.
This year, SFT had the honor of organizing and hosting the second annual award ceremony, with the support of International Tibet Network at NED conference hall in Washington, DC, Capital of the United states of America. The Event was joined by Congressman Jim McGovern, NED President Carl Gershman and other important guests.
Nyima Lhamo, niece of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, said, “I am honored to see the ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ awarded to Tashi Wangchuk today and I call for his immediate release. The Chinese government has a long history of harsh treatment of those who speak out against its failing policies. In 2015 my uncle died after spending over 13 unjust years in Chinese custody despite the fact that we had applied for medical parole, and today the world is watching how China is disdainfully treating Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo. The comparison of these cases shows just how little China learned from the tragic death of my uncle, and I appeal to the international community to firmly hold China accountable for the treatment of its critics.”
The 2016 Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage Award was conferred to Tashi Wangchuk.
SFT accompanied Nyima Lhamo on an inspiring and well-attended speaking tour across the US, covering seven states. The events were organised by SFT in collaboration with Tibetan Community Associations in the respective cities. During her talks, Nyima Lhamo was able to share her firsthand experiences and the challenges her family members and the Tibetan community in Tibet have faced during the 13 years of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s imprisonment and after his death, due to China’s torture and injustice. She emphasized the importance of both engaging the government and protesting in public to hold China accountable for their imprisonment of political activists, human rights violations, and the ongoing crisis in Tibet. The talk was also instrumental in bringing together various Tibetans and Tibet-supporters to re-emphasize China’s injustice and their involvement in the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in detention.
In April, SFT organized a small group of Tibetans, who traveled over 1,000 miles from New York City to Palm Beach, Florida, to protest and expose Xi Jinping’s systematic repression during his first meeting with Trump as sitting President. While this closed-door meeting took place, and Xi Jinping was wined and dined, Tibetans in Tibet continued to suffer from China’s violent occupation. A combination of preparation and sheer determination, the group was able to garner support and media attention through slogans, signs, and a attention-grabbing satirical action prop of Xi Jinping’s head. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
SFT organized the first ever Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan Roundtable Conference in Taipei, April 7-9, with the support of Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan. This conference brought together 30 prominent Tibetan, Hong Konger, and Taiwanese movement leaders and youth activists to build a strategic alliance for freedom, democracy, and self-determination. Given the political changes taking place in China, and new threats and opportunities arising amid changing geopolitical circumstances, we believe it is critical for leaders of different movements to join forces and build a united alliance against a common threat – the CCP. The conference provides a unique platform for activists from these three movements to share skills and resources, and exchange stories and experiences of nonviolent resistance with each other. We plan to develop a long-term vision for coordination among the three movements, and devise strategies to safeguard the freedom, democracy, and human rights that are threatened or suppressed by the CCP regime.
Letters for Freedom
Arrested by the Chinese government for initiating a legal challenge to Beijing for its failure to protect the Tibetan language, January 2017 marked exactly one year of detention for Tibetan shopkeeper and language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. With an aim to complement our ongoing lobbying efforts for Tashi Wangchuk in various parliaments, and our advocacy at the UN, we started our postcard campaign as the public grassroots component of the Free Tashi Wangchuk Campaign. SFT approached various Tibetan Language Sunday Schools and asked them to write letters to Tashi Wangchuk, as part of the ‘Letters for Freedom’ action. Demonstrated by UN High Commissioner Prince Zeid expressing his concern for Tashi Wangchuk in his written statement on China during the Human Rights Council’s 36th session, Tashi Wangchuk’s case has become well-known amongst advocacy groups, multilateral forums, and foreign offices around the world, thanks to the efforts of all who have consistently pushed for his release.
In 2017, SFT organized Free Tibet! Action Camps in Dusseldorf, Germany and Dharamsala, India. Between the two camps, we welcomed movement leaders, workshop trainers, guest speakers, artists, volunteers, and an amazing group of participants from over 10 countries, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, India, Finland, France, Germany, Nepal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States. Through an intensive week of Action Camp trainings and discussions, we were able to help cultivate participants with the knowledge, tools, and networks necessary to become stronger Tibet activists in their communities. The one-on-one interactions that Action Camp creates are an integral component to the strength, unity, and resilience of our organization. Occasions like Action Camp give give everyone who is involved a chance to share ideas and plan actions, and together, we are able to see to the continued development, and implementation, of such ideas.
On the eve of China’s 19th Party Congress, Tibetans and supporters around the world, including activists in Canada, India, Germany, USA, and the UK, protested Xi Jinping’s 5 years of oppressive rule in Tibet. SFT, along with other leading Tibetan NGOs in Dharamsala, released a joint statement to highlight the worsening situation in Tibet under Xi’s dictatorship. SFT activists in New York staged a strong street action outside the Chinese Consulate featuring a giant bloodbath with several dead bodies to symbolize Xi’s flagrant rights abuses in Tibet during his first five year term. Through these actions and events, we sent a clear message to the international community that Xi Jinping is not the savior of the free world, but a dictator of the unfree world, and must be held fully accountable for the serious and outrageous crackdowns implemented across Tibet.
We’re not the only ones who think Apple is putting Tibetan lives at risk! Just one month after launching our campaign against Apple’s appalling decision to remove third-party VPN apps - a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection - from its App Store in China, in a bipartisan action, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Ted Cruz wrote an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook questioning his company’s decision. This letter specifically raised concerns over how Apple’s decision may be supporting China’s censorship and surveillance of Tibetans, and demanded answers to 10 specific questions, including whether Apple has ever taken any action to stand up or speak out for Tibetans. When Apple received the Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award, they stated, “At Apple we are not just enabling others to speak up, we are doing so ourselves.” Senators Leahy and Cruz asked that Apple provide copies of any statements they have issued promoting freedom of speech in China or condemning the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance mechanisms. We are grateful to both U.S. senators for taking such bold action and helping us hold Apple accountable for its actions in China which aid Beijing’s efforts to clamp down on political dissent, and to lead to more Tibetans, and other innocent people, being disappeared or imprisoned for trying to access information or express themselves online.
“Get on the Bus” (GOTB) is an annual day of human rights education and activism. Now in its 22nd year, GOTB draws upwards of 1,200 participants riding buses, commuter trains, and carpooling down to New York City to take peaceful action in front of embassies, consulates and corporate headquarters in NYC in support of human rights. This year, featured speakers and actions focused on Sri Lanka, Sudan, Honduras, the United States, and Tibet. Sonamtso, US Grassroots Director, celebrated former political prisoner Khenpo Kartse’s release with the crowd, as last year many of the participants were there to advocate for his case, and shared information regarding demolitions at Larung Gar and political prisoners Tashi Wangchuk and Shokjang. Also there to speak on Tibet was former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen’s youngest daughter and SFT member, Lhamo Dolma, who shared her personal testimony. The crowd was energetic and as always, this platform allowed young adults to learn more about Tibet’s current situation and directly take action afterward.
In August 2017, Students for a Free Tibet’s Board of Directors announced the appointment of Dorjee Tseten as the new Executive Director. Dorjee Tseten first joined the organization in 2010 as SFT India’s Campaigns Director, before being promoted to the role of SFT India’s National Director. Dorjee Tseten became part of the Students for a Free Tibet International staff in 2013 when he took on the role of Asia Director. Last year, he was elected to serve as a member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
Dorjee Tseten brings a wide range of skills, unique vision, and an unwavering commitment to the Tibetan freedom struggle. Born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India and educated in Gujarat, his activism and advocacy for Tibet have led him to travel the world where he has been a speaker, led numerous trainings, met with global leaders, and taken part in nonviolent direct actions.
SFT, as part of Tibet Advocacy Coalition, helped organize an event, ‘Defenders in Detention’, where relatives of detained activists, including late Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s Niece Nyima Lhamo, spoke on building on the legacy of Liu Xiaobo. This event was attended by major state missions (including China’s) and Human Rights Groups including the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR). Our team directly confronted China on the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. SFT has travelled three times this year to Geneva to highlight cases like Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Tashi Wangchuk, particularly with the OHCHR. Our work at the UN resulted in High Commissioner Prince Zeid’s strong opening statement at the Council, stating that the deaths of Liu Xiaobo and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche “shocked many around the world”, and that other political prisoners in China are in various forms of deprivation of liberty on questionable grounds. He also urged China to include in its development work a greater focus on marginalized populations such as Tibetans and Uyghurs. This is exactly what we’ve been working towards – bold, precise actions that focus on Tibet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.”
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the 2nd annual Tibetan Independence Day, we shined a spotlight on Tibet's history by commemorating the historic Tibet-China Treaty of 821-822 AD. We are marking this significant day to secure Tibet's independent past in order to shape our future of a free Tibet.
Our UN lobbying efforts peaked at China's Human Rights Review at the UN Human Rights Council Session in Geneva in March where China was made to answer for its atrocities against Tibetans. We ensured Tibet was a spotlight issue at China's ultra-controversial review through high-level meetings with over 20 UN member states.
Since January, SFT has trained over one hundred students, activists and youth in the art of non-violent direct action, media advocacy, digital activism, campaign strategy, and grassroots organizing in Poland, Belgium, Canada, Taiwan, India, the UK and the USA.
When Khenpo Kartse was arrested in December 2013, we launched an emergency petition and raised his case with over 20 UN member states and governments. In April, Canadian MP Peggy Nash presented the petition to the Canadian government, calling for action. In April, SFT teamed up with Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's family to renew calls for his release as he marked his twelfth year in prison.
In March, together with other Tibet groups, SFT organized Tibet Lobby Days in Canada, the UK, India, the USA and Europe in an international effort to bring world leaders together in a united international response to the crisis 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 Tibetans. 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.
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.
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
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.
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 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.”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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