By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 31 Oct: Drawupon Rinchen Tsering, the last surviving member of the inaugural Tibetan legislative body, passed away on the evening of 27 October at the Dekyiling Tibetan settlement in Dehradun. He was 93 years old.
Born in Kham Nangchen Nyernga, Tibet, in 1930 to the Drawu household, one of the influential chieftain families in the region at the time, Rinchen Tsering played a significant role in Tibetan resistance during the years of China’s invasion in the 1950s. He was actively involved in organising the Tibetan resistance army known as ‘Chushi Gangdruk.’ His spirited leadership and courage during numerous fighting battles against China’s red armies are legendary.
Following the complete annexation of Tibet in 1959 and the exile of the Dalai Lama and hundreds of thousands of Tibetans into India, Rinchen Tsering became one of the founding members of what was then called the Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies, now known as the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE).
A witness and active member from the inception, he served the TPiE three consecutive terms, from 1960 to 1964, 1964 to 1966, and 1966 to 1969. He was later re-elected for a fourth time as a parliamentarian from 1976 to 1979, as the representative from Dotoe province.
At the news of his demise, many people have taken to social media to write tribute, expressing admiration and gratitude for his remarkable service to Tibet and the Tibetan community.
Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, a poet and author of ‘A Home in Tibet’ attributes the late Rinchen Tsering to living many lives as a chieftain, freedom fighter, a parliamentarian, adding “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to listen to his stories about Tibet and about the early days in exile. What an incredible journey he had, and helped many on theirs. Life in exile will be a little bumpier without him.”
The 17th TPiE has announced its intention to pay tribute to Drawupon Rinchen Tsering during the next session of the parliament, scheduled to convene in March.