By Tsering Passang
LONDON, UK, 21 August 2009
A warm reception was hosted by the Office of Tibet and the Tibetan Community in Britain at the Tibet House on Monday evening, to bid farewell to the outgoing Representative of the Dalai Lama Mr Tsering Tashi, and to welcome his successor, Mr Thubten Samdup.
The Dalai Lama’s new Representative for Northern Europe, Samdup said, “I want to make a difference in my new role for the Tibetan struggle,” to the gathering attended by nearly 100 specially invited guests from various embassies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions, including diplomats, parliamentarians, journalists, local Tibetan leaders, British Buddhist community and members of the Tibetan Community in Britain.
Samdup is a former member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile representing the Tibetans in North America, and who has many years experience in Tibet-related work, including founding and serving as the President of the Canada Tibet Committee from 1987-2004 amongst many other innovative campaigning and outreach initiatives.
In his farewell speech, outgoing Tsering Tashi said, “Many of you will remember that last year when Tibet hit the international news headlines, we were only two staff in the office. Nevertheless, by working long hours and even on weekends we managed to not only come out successfully with His Holiness’ May visit to London, Nottingham and Oxford, but also take care of all the other official responsibilities and respond to the overwhelming approaches received from the UK and international media as the primary source and commentator on issues affecting the Tibetan people.”
Tashi has served at the office of Tibet since 2001, initially as Secretary/Information and Press Officer and later as the Dalai Lama’s
Representative for Northern Europe for more than two years.
A journalist by training, Tashi had previously served as the press officer in the office of the Dalai Lama. He will join the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala.
Tashi thanked everybody for the cooperation he received in fulfilling his responsibilities from various government offices, NGOs and individuals, particularly the UK Foreign Office and Foreign Ministries of related European countries.
Chairman of the Tibetan Community in Britain, Pempa Lobsang, praised Tsering Tashi as a “people’s man.”
Lobsang said Tashi brought about real change in the way of working and encouraged not only the members of the Tibetan community, but the western Tibet supporters as well.
While extending a warm welcome to the Dalai Lama’s new Representative, he said, “The community, represented by its council members will continue to work closely with the Office of Tibet under the leadership of Thubten Samdup and we look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
The CEO of Tibet Society, the world’s oldest Tibet support group, Philippa Carrick, admired Tashi’s untiring work and effectively raising the Tibetan issue with governments across northern Europe, forging many new connections.
“He engenders much warmth and affection with all of us who have been privileged to work with him. On a personal level I will miss his patience, good humour … and wisdom, which I always greatly appreciated,” Ms Carrick said.
“Thubten Samdup has a hard act to follow! But he is another remarkable man so I know he will develop the connections Tashi forged and I greatly look forward to working with him.”
The Office of Tibet is currently staffed by three Tibetans, who also run its charitable wing, the Tibet House Trust.