CTA held a prayer service for Thubten Samphel, former Director of Tibet Policy Institute on June 4, 2022. Photo: DIIR/Tenzin Phende

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Dharamshala — The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) held a prayer service for Thubten Samphel, former Secretary and Director of the Tibet Policy Institute of CTA. The CTA and many other Tibetans expressed their grief over Samphel's sudden death on June 4, 2022.

Thubten Samphel, who served CTA for nearly forty years in various fields and has also written several books, including "Falling Through the Roof,” “the Dalai Lamas of Tibet,” “Copper Mountain,” as well as in international newspapers and journals.

Thubten Samphel was born in 1956, Lhasa, the capital of Tibet to a humble family, who worked for Yabshe Taktse family. At the age of six, he escaped Tibet to India with his elder brother. After serving for over 38 years at CTA, he retired on November 2, 2018 and passed away on June 4, 2022, at Tsering Gyepheling, Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement, in South India.

During the prayer service at Sikyong hall, CTA, officiating Sikyong Tharlam Dolma Changra stated the late Director of Tibet Policy Institute have lived a meaningful life given his appreciable lifelong contributions to the Tibetan community. She further urged everyone at the gathering to draw inspiration from the late Thubten Samphel and pray for his swift rebirth.

Norzin Dolma, Kalon (Minister) of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of CTA said, “While honouring the tall legacy of Kungo Thupten Samphel la for his dedicated service, inspiring personality and huge contribution to the Tibetan cause through different portfolios, most specially in the DIIR, we offer our heartfelt prayers and sincere condolences to the family members during this time of grief and loss.”

Brief biography of Thubten Samphel

Thubten Samphel was born in 1956 in Lhasa to a humble family who worked for Yabshe Taktse family. At the age of six, he escaped Tibet to India with his elder brother. Following his arrival, he was admitted to Tibetan Children’s Village school and sent to Dr Graham’s Homes in Kalimpong later. He studied B.A and M.A in History from St. Stephen College, Delhi University. During his master’s program, Samphel worked as an apprentice under Secretary Tenzin Geyche Tethong in the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a year.

In 1980, he joined the CTA and was promoted to Deputy Secretary in 1982. In July 1985, Kungo Samphel was selected as a member of the Fourth Fact-Finding delegation led by Woeser Gyaltsen Kundeling. The delegation visited north-eastern Tibet and China during which he was designated as the official photographer of the delegation.

In 1988, he was among the first group of Tibetan Fulbright scholars to study in the United States and studied journalism at Columbia University, New York. During this period, he also interned at Congressman Charlie Rose office for a month, becoming probably the first Tibetan to work as an apprentice in the US Congress.

Upon completion of his studies from the US, Thubten Samphel continued his service in the CTA in various capacities. He briefly worked at the Office of Tibet, Washington DC in 1991 and in 1992, he joined the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office in Kathmandu as Joint Secretary until his transfer back to DIIR in 1995. He served as the editor of the Tibetan Bulletin for many years in DIIR and was promoted to the Information Secretary in 1991. He served in this position as well as the official spokesperson of the CTA until 2012.

In 2012, he was appointed as the Executive Director of the newly-established Tibet Policy Institute, a think tank of the CTA. On 2 November 2018, he retired after serving for more than 38 years at the CTA.