Tenzin Tsundue

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Tenzin Tsundue protesting across from Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao's hotel room in Bangalore in 2005.

Tenzin Tsundue is a poet, writer and Tibetan activist.[1] He won the first-ever Outlook-Picador Award for Non-Fiction in 2001. He has published four books to date which have been translated into several languages: Crossing the Border (1999), Kora (2002), Semshook (2007), and Tsen-göl (2012). Tsundue's writings have also appeared in various publications around the world including the International PEN, Outlook, and The Times of India. In 2002 the Indian edition of the international fashion magazine Elle, named him among India's 50 most stylish people.[2] Tenzin Tsundue joined Friends of Tibet (India) in 1999 and is the current General Secretary. Tsundue lives in Dharamshala, North India.


Tsundue's parents were forced to leave their country, Tibet, in 1959 fearing persecution by the PRC. When they reached India, they worked as mountain road construction labourers in Masumari, Bir, Kullu, and Manali. Hundreds of Tibetans who came across into India died in those first few months as they could not bear the heat of summer, and the monsoon caught them in poor health. But the camp lived on and had many shifts along the road. Tsundue was born somewhere along that journey, in a makeshift tent along a roadside. His date of birth is not confirmed, and three different records exist at different offices. He did his schooling in Dharamshala, and later went on to study in universities in Chennai and Mumbai. On 6 March 2018 he spoke about his struggles in Rustomjee Cambridge International School Dahisar (W) to the children there and they say they loved to listen to him.


His first book of poems Crossing the Border was published while pursuing a Masters Degree at Mumbai University. He won the Outlook-Picador Award for Non-Fiction in 2001. His second book, Kora has been translated into French and Malayalam (and was also turned into an award-nominated play[3] called "So Many Socks"). His third book, Semshook, a compilation of essays on the Tibetan freedom movement was published in March 2007. His writings have also appeared in on a regular basis in the Indian media and in international publications.


Protest against China in India, 19 April 2008

Tsundue has been involved in Tibet's independence movement since his student days. But he caught international media attention in January 2002 when he climbed the scaffolding outside the hotel where PRC Premier Zhu Rongji was staying in Mumbai; he displayed a banner with the words ""Free Tibet: China, Get Out" and a Tibetan flag while shouting pro-Tibetan slogans before being arrested by Indian police.[4][5]

In April 2005 he repeated a similar one-man protest when PRC Premier Wen Jiabao was visiting the southern city of Bangalore. Standing on the balcony of a 200-foot-high tower at the Indian Institute of Science, he unfurled a red banner that read "Free Tibet" while shouting "Wen Jiabao, you cannot silence us". As a result of his actions, the Indian police ordered a travel ban and Tsundue was ordered not to leave the town of Dharamshala, when the Chinese President Hu Jintao visited India in November 2006.[6]

In 2008, Tsundue announced his intention of taking part in a return march from Dharamshala to Tibet, that was being organized as a part of the "Tibetan People's Uprising Movement", a united effort put together by five major Tibetan NGOs. Tsundue has been wearing a red band around his head since 2002 which he says is the mark of his pledge that he would work for the freedom of his country, and would never take it off until Tibet is free.


  1. ^ "Dialogue with Tenzin Tsundue". www.phayul.com. 26 October 2005. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  2. ^ India's 50 Most Stylish People: The ELLE Hotlist! | http://www.friendsoftibet.org/mediaonfot/20020701.html
  3. ^ Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards | http://metawards.com/v1/so-many-socks/
  4. ^ Mishra, Pankaj (18 December 2005). "The Restless Children of the Dalai Lama". The New York Times. p. 58. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  5. ^ D'Souza, Dilip (22 January 2002). "Dilip D'Souza on Tenzin Tsundue's struggle for a free Tibet". rediff.com. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  6. ^ "Travel ban for Tibetan activist". BBC Online. 14 November 2006. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.

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