The PEN community is devastated today by the news of the death of our friend and colleague, Lobsang Chokta in Delhi, India. As Vice-president of PEN Tibetan Writers Abroad he was a tireless champion of literature, freedom of expression and linguistic rights.
He was wonderful to work with, a committed member of the PEN family and an unwavering advocate for imprisoned Tibetan writers, language and heritage.
We extend our deepest sympathy and condolence to his family and friends, knowing that it can in no way make up for their loss.
PEN International president, John Ralston Saul said, 'Many of us knew Lobsang Chokta well. He was always an eloquent and courageous voice for Tibetan culture and rights. This is a terrible tragedy and while we wait to learn more about what happened, I know that we will all want to think about the loss of our good friend Lobsang'.
Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International, said, "We are full of sorrow. Lobsang was the most peaceful and cheerful person, as well as the most dedicated to the cultural rights of the Tibetan people. We still hear his clear voice in our assembly of delegates denouncing the injustices committed by the Chinese authorities against his people. His friendship with writers from all over the world made him a staunch advocate of Tibetan literature. I remember well, at the end of the Girona meeting last May, when I told him: 'Let's think big, my friend: why don't we host an international Translation & Linguistic Rights Committee meeting in Dharamsala?' He answered, 'I always dream big: we will have the PEN International Congress in Lhasa one day.' On that day, we will honor him again."
The circumstances of his death are currently unclear. PEN International will be following the investigation as it develops.