Juchen Thupten Namgyal (1929-2011)
DHARAMSHALA, September 1: Former Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) and Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Juchen Thupten Namgyal passed away yesterday evening in Delhi, India. He was 82.
Born in Meshong, Derge eastern Tibet, Juchen Thupten Namgyal joined the Tibetan resistance force and fought the invading People’s Liberation Army. In March 1959 when China started shelling the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Juchen Thupten Namgyal was the leader of a team of voluntary soldiers guarding the Norbulingka Palace in Lhasa.
After escaping into exile he took up community leadership in the biggest Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe.
Juchen Thupten Namgyal was elected to the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile then known as the Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies in 1972 and served as its Chairman for two years. On May 11, 1976 he was appointed as a member of the fifth Kashag (Cabinet) and served as the Minister of Information for the Central Tibetan Administration.
Juchen Thupten Namgyal then served as Kalon Tripa for two consecutive terms in the sixth and the seventh cabinet.
In 1979, Juchen Thupten Namgyal led the first fact-finding delegation to Tibet during which he spent four months touring all three provinces of Tibet, meeting people and investigating the ground realities of Tibet. During the trip he also met with the late 10th Panchen Lama and other Tibetan officials.
As representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in 1982 and 1984, Juchen Thupten Namgyal led negotiation teams to Beijing and discussed many important issues with the Chinese officials including the right to self-determination of the Tibetan people.
The Central Tibetan Administration in a condolence message today “expressed deep sadness,” remembering Juchen Thupten Namgyal for his “prominent service as resistant fighter against Chinese invasion in Tibet and later as the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile from 1974-76 and in the Kashag for 15 years.”
He is survived by his five daughters and grandchildren.