MINNEAPOLIS (May 19, 2012) — A young Tibetan woman named Tenzin Pelkyi has been named the newest recipient of the Sullivan Ballou Award and scholarship for human rights.
Awarded by the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Program, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the Sullivan Ballou Fund, Pelkyi is the first ever university undergraduate to receive the award, which has been given over 60 times to those in Minnesota who have made substantial contributions to their community.
Pelkyi is starting law school at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she plans to study international human rights law, this fall. She was an organizer and executive board member of Students for a Free Tibet-Minnesota, and has been unanimously elected the group’s adviser for next year.
A first generation recent college graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a former refugee from the exile community in India, Tenzin received the award for her work campaigning for Tibet and raising awareness about the self-immolations which have occurred inside Tibet since last year. 35 Tibetans have self-immolated thus far, one of which occurred in her hometown of New Delhi, India earlier this year.
One of the actions Tenzin has taken this year, aside from numerous rallies, marches, protests, vigils, and community-wide prayer sessions, include participating in Tibet Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. and lobbying her members of Congress to pressure the Obama administration to call for diplomatic action for Tibet. Ten days later the Senate Resolution she lobbied for was passed, and a House Resolution introduced, with her Representative Keith Ellison co-sponsoring the bill, as well as call on the United Natios to heed the demands of three Tibetan hunger strikers including one from Minnesota.
Pelkyi has also organized a formal forum-style dialogue event between Chinese students from the mainland studying in colleges and universities throughout the state and His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester last month. It was sponsored by the Office of Tibet in New York and the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota has the largest international Chinese student population and second largest Tibetan refugee community in the United States.