His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Dharamshala, India on April 23, 2015. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala, India — Sikyong of Central Tibetan Administration and Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile offered their deepest condolences to the family members of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a very dear friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon on his passing away.

On December 27, 2021, Penpa Tsering, Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, and Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile wrote a letter of condolence to the family members of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, expressing their condolences on the death of Desmond Tutu. South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize laureate who passed away Sunday at the age of 90.

In the letter of condolence to Leah Tutu, wife of the late Demon Tutu, Sikyong wrote, “It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. On behalf of the Central Tibetan Administration and Tibetans around the world, I offer our deepest condolences and prayers to your family and the people of South Africa”.

“This irreparable loss is felt deeply by the Tibetan people who were moved and inspired by the humbling friendship between Archbishop Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We fondly remember his visits to Dharamshala, especially his presence at the pre-celebration of His Holiness’ 80th birthday in 2015,” he added.

“The Tibetan people were among the millions who were the fortunate recipient of the Archbishop’s boundless empathy and support. His victory in bringing justice and freedom to his people is an inspiration to many, including the Tibetan people. We remain eternally grateful and inspired by his legacy,” Sikyong further added.

“Archbishop Tutu embodied all that humanity could be. Though we bid farewell to him, his legacy will live on. The light and hope he represents will continue to shine and guide us all,” the Tibetan leader said.

“As per the Buddhist tradition, we will be observing a prayer service today in honour of his memory and pray that we continue to be guided by his spirit of altruism. Once again, I extend our deepest condolences and prayers” Sikyong concluded.

In the letter written to the Archbishop’s daughter Rev Mpho Tutu, the Speaker wrote, “December 26, 2021, marks a very sad day, especially for the Tibetans on receiving the news of the passing away of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was an icon of global peace, a dear friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibet.”

“I had the privilege of meeting him during an event at Dharamsala in 2015. He dearly admired His Holiness the Dalai Lama and shared a spiritual bond with him. He also supported our just cause of Tibet. He advocated human rights, global peace and humanitarian at large. His departure from this world is very saddening news for all of us. I extend my heartiest condolence to his family and followers. I hope we will be able to follow his guidance and words of compassion and humanity. We celebrate him and his legacy. He will live on in our hearts,” the Speaker said.

“Once again on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and the entire Tibetans across the world, I send my sincere condolence and prayers during this difficult time,” Speaker concluded.

Tutu was one of the most prominent black South Africans throughout the 1980s to speak out against abuses in the country, such as the violence of apartheid and the state of emergency that gave the police and military overwhelming power. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work.

Tutu often worked with Nelson Mandela, another Nobel laureate and anti-apartheid activist, who, after spending 27 years in prison under white rule, became South Africa's first president in 1994. As president, Mandela appointed Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which exposed the abuses of the apartheid system.

He was a strong voice for the Tibetan people, often expressing support for the cause of Tibetan freedom and solidarity with Tibetans suffering under Chinese occupation. He became a very close spiritual friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Accepting the "Tibet's Light of Truth" award in 2006, from His Holiness the Dalai Lama "on behalf of the heroes and heroines who often go unmentioned", Archbishop Tutu drew comparisons between the struggle to end apartheid and the Tibetan struggle.

Tutu strongly called on the Chinese government Beijing to “do the right thing” for the Dalai Lama and Tibet and expressed his hope that China´s emerging global political status would see it be a “superpower for the promotion of freedom in the world, especially in Tibet.”

“Bad people do not have the last word. They may have guns and power, but they have already lost…Justice, goodness, compassion and love will prevail. Freedom is unstoppable,” Tutu added.