One hundred distinguished guests attended the reception—diplomats from various embassies, non-governmental organisations and academic institutions, as well as MPs, journalists, local Tibetan leaders, and members of the British Buddhist community.
Mr. Tsering Tashi, who began working at the Office of Tibet as a press officer in 2001, and was later promoted to Representative, said in his farewell speech that his job has been, “A great honour, but at the same time extremely challenging especially in the face of limited resources and manpower.”
He detailed how they have managed to succeed despite these limitations, recalling, "Many of you will remember that last year when Tibet hit the international news headlines, we were only two staff in the office. Nevertheless…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 appealed to the audience to provide continued support to his successor, stating, “From experience I know the challenges that lie ahead for the Office of Tibet. I therefore request you and all concerned governments, Tibet-related NGOs, fellow Tibetans and our friends and supporters to also extend your cooperation, friendship and support to the new Representative Mr. Thubten Samdup in the fulfilment of his heavy responsibilities.”
The outgoing representative concluded his speech by acknowledging the “understanding and support” shown by the UK and European governments and community, which “proved to be a source of much encouragement and helped to fuel our determination to work still harder.”
Pempa Lobsang, Chairman of Tibetan Community in Britain, paid tribute to the outgoing representative, stating “Tsering Tashi la has been a credit to the Tibetan government...his commitment to the cause was second to none, his ability undoubted. He has also brought about real change in the way we work and encouraged not only our Tibetan members but our Western supporters and various government officials in Europe including Great Britain…it has been a real pleasure to have worked with you.”
Lobsang’s glowing statements were echoed by Philippa Carrick, CEO of the Tibet Society—the world’s oldest Tibet support group—who remarked, “Thubten Samdup has a hard act to follow! But he is another remarkable man so I know he will develop the connections Tsering forged and I greatly look forward to working with him.”
Mr. Thubten Samdup, the new Representative for Northern Europe, is a former member of the Tibetan parliament in exile who represented the Tibetans in North America. He has many years of experience with Tibet-related work, including founding and serving as the President of the Canadian Tibet Committee from 1987-2004, amongst many other innovative campaigns and outreach initiatives. UK and European supporters are looking forward to working with Samdup, who has said, “I want to make a difference [for the Tibetan struggle] in my new role.”
Currently, three Tibetans work at the Office of Tibet and also run its charity, the Tibet House Trust.
Outgoing representative Tsering Tashi will take up his new role at the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) in Dharamsala.
Edited by Amy The Tibet Post International