By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 30 December 2012
Sonam Topgyal, former Prime Minister of Tibet-in-exile, who had spent his entire life in the service of the Central Tibetan Administration, died on Sunday morning after a prolonged illness.
Topgyal, 77, breathed his last at 4.30 am at his residence near Norbulingka Institute in Dharamshala. Family sources said that he had been suffering from stomach cancer.
Sonam Topgyal held the post of Prime Minister (then called Kalon Tripa and now called Sikyong) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) from April 1997 to September 2001. He had also worked in different capacities in various departments of CTA.
In 1968 Topgyal was one of the founders of Sheja, a Tibetan publication, along with Tenzin Geyche and Tenzin Namgyal Tethong. In 1971 Sheja became a part of the CTA publication of the same name, which continues until today.
He was one of the four convenors of the first Tibetan youth conference in Dharamshala, along with Tenzin Geyche, Lodi Gyari, and Tenzin Tethong. This conference resulted in the formation of the Tibetan Youth Congress on 7 October 1970. The organisation advocates for an independent Tibet separate from China.
Topgyal was born in Tibet’s Kham Drakyab region. He is survived by his wife and three daughters.