Shugden-Dalai Lama protests 2014: Responses to the campaigning of the Western Shugden group

The New Kadampa Tradtion (NKT) was able to generate a lot of attention to their anti-Dalai Lama campaigning (via one of their front organizations, the International Shugden Community) in the US in February and March 2014. The world wide media campaign comes in the guise of a ‘fight for religious freedom and against religious persecutions’, and includes the manipulation of Wikipedia. Most media in the US have fallen pray to the Shugden group’s distorted allegations quoting the protesters and their press speakers without any investigation about the factual accuracy of their claims – they have not consulted any academic expert either as far as I can see. In that way the media miss to make their job and indirectly support the NKT to spoil the activities of the Dalai Lama who tries hard to reduce the pain of his people who are really oppressed, tortured, imprisoned and persecuted by China if they strive for any own opinion or their own human and religious rights. Contrary to this real violence and oppression against Tibetans by China not ANY Shugden follower has been imprisoned, tortured and claims of their so called “persecution” are heavily exaggerated. The Delhi High Court refused in 2010 to even investigate the allegations made by Shugden followers in India due their baseless and vague nature. The campaigning Western Shugden group takes some individual cases out of context and wrongly claim it would be a policy of the Dalai Lama or the Central Tibetan Administration to “persecute” Shugden practitioners, wrongly claiming there would be a policy to hinder them to get access to medical care, education or passport issues. The Western protesters (mainly NKT followers) do in no way accept the Dalai Lama, they see him as a “ruthless dictator”, the “worst dictator of our Modern Time”, the “enemy of the Buddha Dharma”, “evil and cruel” etc. and they are in no way hindered by the Dalai Lama or anybody to worship Shugden. Similar in India Shugden adherents have their own temples and places to venerate Shugden.

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The noisy and aggressive protests and the widespread misleading and factual wrong internet campaigning by the NKT and its front organizations over power less aggressive, factual correct and truthful voices. This blog has tried to offer some space to such voices. There are two new voices I want to share and make known to you.

Tibetan Community Associations of Northern California and Los Angeles

The members of Tibetan Community Associations of Northern California and Los Angeles, have been dismayed by the behavior of a small group of people shouting insults at His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his recent visit to California. Many of them appear to have been monastics shouting insulting slogans like “Dalai Lama, stop lying” outside venues where His Holiness was speaking. They have distributed pamphlets containing the outrageous accusation that His Holiness is “the worst dictator of modern time.” It is hard to describe the deep hurt Tibetans feel in the face of such slander of their respected leader. It is particularly painful for us Tibetan Americans since we are acutely aware that His Holiness represents the only source of hope for millions of our compatriots inside Tibet. Their dignity and freedom are under constant threat under repressive communist Chinese rule.

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Statement of the Deutsche Buddhistische Ordensgemeinschaft (DBO, German Buddhist Monastic Association) on the Protests against the Dalai Lama by the International Shugden Community (ISC)

The Deutsche Buddhistische Ordensgemeinschaft (DBO) formally dissociates itself from the protests against the Dalai Lama, which are being staged worldwide, and also in Frankfurt (Main). The DBO remains of the conviction that opinions among Buddhists should be expressed in a peaceful, respectful, truthful and reasonable manner. The DBO is very concerned about the protesters’ aggressive, misleading and unethical behaviour and the false image being presented by them to the public. The DBO emphasizes that the protesters belonging to the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) are no Buddhist monks and nuns according to the monastic rules of the Buddha and that their behaviour in public represents neither the Buddha nor his teachings (Dharma) nor the Buddhist community (Sangha).

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In a “Supplement to the statement of the German Buddhist monastic community (DBO) on the protests against His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the International Shugden Community (ISC)” the DBO corrects some of the assertions of the Shugden group, e.g.

Assertion: “The Dalai Lama suppresses religious freedom.” – Correction: Shugden may very well be invoked privately or in Shugden temples and monasteries by his devotees, and this happens. It is the Shugden practice itself that restricts religious freedom by threatening those who exercise the spiritual practices of other Tibetan-Buddhist schools with severe penalties. Restrictions of this practice would therefore increase the freedom of all others to practice what they wish to practice. In any society it is necessary for the protection of freedom of the majority to restrict religious extremism and to exclude their advocates from public institutions.

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See also

Update May 10, 2014

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamshala, India, denies to refuse to give passport documents to Shugden adherents:

Tibetan Dolgyal propitiators continue to travel within India and abroad on documents issued by the Indian government with the endorsement of the Central Tibetan Administration. In seeking legal status or political asylum in North America and Europe, Dolgyal followers could be using denial of religious freedom as an excuse, but the very documents on which they stay in India and travel abroad, is issued by the government of India and endorsed by the Central Tibetan Administration. Therefore, the CTA has neither denied them their religious freedom nor obstructed their rights to live in India and travel abroad.

For example, Chime Tsering, the then Secretary General of Dorje Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society, travelled on an Identity Certificate (IC), to the US, issued by the government of India with the endorsement of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Delhi. His Indian Registration certificate (RC) was issued by the government of India with the recommendation from the local Tibetan Settlement Officer of the CTA. Furthermore, Athar Tsering, a former secretary of the North American Gelug Buddhist Association (USA) also travelled to the US using travel documents issued by the government of India and endorsed by the CTA. So do many others Dolgyal followers. (see Shugden Followers’ Baseless Allegations – A Rejoinder from the Central Tibetan Administration)

Update August 20, 2014