Dharamsala: Monday this week brought the entire Tibetan world on a standstill. Gyari Lodi Gyaltsen, a man of high stature, who donned different roles and responsibilities for the Tibetan cause, passed away in a San Francisco hospital on 29 October, after a prolonged battle against cancer. He leaves behind a legacy of lifetime service for Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibetan people.
A spirited activist, dedicated Tibetan parliamentarian, revered Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and one of the youngest Kalon (minister) of Kashag (Tibetan cabinet) and a skilled diplomat, he is considered as the top envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama whole led the nine rounds of high-level talks with Chinese counterparts.
The New York Times obituary on him evinces the fact that Gyari Lodi Gyaltsen was an internationally renowned personality whose commitment to the cause of Tibet and advocacy for universal human rights earned him respect and access to the highest levels of international diplomat circles. Many government heads, diplomats, policymakers and scholars consulted him on issues of global and regional significance especially in the areas of the US, India, China and Tibet. Under the visionary leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with the steadfast, impassioned efforts of Lodi Gyari, the issue of Tibet received much widespread international support.
His demise saw an immediate outpour of tributes from various quarters. People took to various social media sites to express their grief and gratitude to one of the tallest leaders in the Tibetan movement.
The international campaign for Tibet posted a blog post titled ‘Lodi Gyari, a lifetime of service to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people’. Read the post here (https://www.savetibet.org/lodi-gyari-a-lifetime-of-service-to-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama-and-the-tibetan-people/?fbclid=IwAR0kYuNiyAYmdATbNqDceQNbGFjscPTRH01u16O_DRc7QiVQY6bRsQ7Fz7w)
The President of Central Tibetan Administration paid a tribute to late Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari with this post on his Facebook page.
“Personally, I will always remember him with respect and gratitude from my many years of working with him. On behalf of all the civil servants of the Central Tibetan Administration, I extend my prayers and deepest condolences to the family of Gyari Rinpoche,” Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay.
“On this sad day, it is hard to find the words to pay tribute to the towering presence of Lodi Gyari Rinpoche. Out of the uncertainty that shaped a generation of young Tibetan political activists in India through the late 1960s and 70s, Rinpoche emerged a gifted thinker and strategist, and later, a brilliant statesman. Books will have to be written to account for the vital role of Rinpoche’s political genius in the history of Tibet’s arrival on the international stage. For now, just a note to say that Rinpoche’s untimely passing leaves an enormous void in the Tibetan exile world. But with his intense and unwavering conviction that Tibet should be propelled to the frontline of global politics and into the highest corridors of power, Gyari Rinpoche also left us all an extraordinary gift — he gave us a glimpse into potential Tibetan greatness to come. As a witness to Rinpoche’s own greatness — his brave and unflinching commitment to Tibet’s future, no matter the political risks or fallout — I hope his family can take comfort in knowing that his life has changed the course of our collective Tibetan future. Prayers now to Rinpoche and my heartfelt condolences to Acha Dawa la and the family.”
Leading Tibetan scholar-activist Tenzin Dorjee summed up the legacy of Lodi Gyari.
“Gyari Rinpoche was a true giant in the Tibet movement. His tireless work in Washington laid the foundations for the modern Tibetan rights advocacy movement in the West. He was instrumental in setting up many of the organizations that constitute a vast web of resistance and resilience in exile: the Tibetan Youth Congress, the International Campaign for Tibet, CTAC, the Bridge Fund, and many more. He was a key architect of major legislative victories in the US Congress, working his charm on both sides of the aisle. As the Special Envoy to His Holiness, Gyari Rinpoche’s celebrated diplomatic genius was without peer in our community (even Jamyang Norbu, who publicly clashed with Rinpoche on political approach and strategy, would attest to that). In the 2000s, Gyari Rinpoche led several rounds of negotiations with the Chinese leadership that unfortunately ended in failure. Rinpoche’s life ended on a sad note, in a kind of a double exile, but the institutional bricks he laid down early on as a young activist, organizer, networker and hustler (I mean this as a compliment, for a refugee diplomat must hustle at all times) in building a vibrant international movement network for Tibet are still standing today, and we owe much of that to his dedication, personal charisma and sustained cultivation of diverse allies. The political acumen he exhibited in his early career is much needed today. RIP Gyari Rinpoche.”
Here are some of the tributes posted by netizens on social media sites, remembering the legacy of Gyaltsen Lodi Gyari.