The International Shugden Community (ICS) – which is the third front organisation of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) – have planned three days of demonstrations under the Dalai Lama’s Oslo visit. A senior member of the NKT’s Facebook commented this two days ago in the following manner:
This hypocrite will be in Oslo tomorrow – scene of his false award for peace by the Nobel Committee.
The protesters claim a “hidden intensive persecution campaign of thousands of Tibetan citizens in exile” that they wish “to draw world attention to” … (read more)
For a background of the group and a verification of their claims by independent experts see the following article by theForeigner. The journalist has done his job and consulted Dr Nathan W. Hill, Lecturer in Tibetan and Linguistics at London University SOAS’ (School of Oriental and African Studies) as an expert in the religious / political matter and INFORM as experts about New Religious Movements:
… the Dalai Lama is often accused by the pro-Shugden side as suppressing freedom of religion.
“This accusation makes no sense,” states Dr Hill. “The Dalai Lama is not head of any state; he has no military or police at his command; he has no political jurisdiction over which he can exercise suppression.”
“Some members of the Gelug sect left the authority of the Dalai Lama in order to follow what they see as a purer form of religion. These people may not be very popular in other parts of the Gelug sect, but their human rights have not been violated nor their freedoms suppressed; even if some people did want to suppress or silence the pro-Shugen side, they simply have no means of doing so,” Dr Hill concludes.
INFORM also remarks that a significant number of former NKT members report having been encouraged to join in protests against the Dalai Lama. These individuals have noted that any positive mention of the Dalai Lama at NKT meditation centres was (usually quietly) discouraged by the NKT teachers.
Moreover, INFORM state they received an enquiry from someone attending an NKT centre based in Sweden in connection with the current anti-Dalai Lama protests in Oslo. The person reported that Kelsang Tubchen was travelling to Sweden to encourage students and teachers in Sweden to attend these.
ISC press spokesperson Rachael Jeffrey tells The Foreigner there are no formal links between the ISC and NKT.
The NKT ran protests already in 1996–98 against the Dalai Lama via the Dorje Shugden Supporter Community and they picked up the campaign again in 2008 via Western Shugden Society. For the Western Shugden Society campaigning NKT editors took over and manipulated all related Wikipedia articles in April 2008 (and these articles are still a mess today).
For the 2014 campaign the NKT founded a new front organization, the International Shugden Community. While during the first campaign in 1996-98 the media had the time and money to investigate the allegations and to offer their readers a balanced and critical account about the protesters, their assertions, the facts and the background of the group (see The Independent, The Guardian (PDF), and BBC) during the new wave of protests, from 2008 onwards, almost ALL international media repeated the allegations of the group without consulting independent academic experts / scientists. And even when they did, like the Time magazine, they misrepresented experts as Robert Barnett (Columbia University) pointed out. During the US vist of the Dalai Lama in March 2014 this pattern repeated itself again. In many cases the Shugden campaigners were able to mislead and misinform the media and spread these information on YouTube, Wikipedia etc. If you check all of this it is very hard even for a good minded and open person to understand what is true and what is not true.
After quite a while of media numbness in this matter there seems to be a bit of a shift, where the false allegations are being corrected and the background of the protesters is being investigated a bit more deeply than just repeating their claims …
- Prof Robert Thurman in a Huffington Post article and
- the German Buddhist Monastic Association’s statement that also directly addresses and corrects some of the assertions by the Shugden group.
- Update 11 May 2014: Interview about the Shugden conflict with Tibetologist Thierry Dodin
Of course for all of us who were or are directly affiliated or followed the NKT it is clear that it is NKT who run, organize and perform the protests, no matter if NKT followers lie to the press again and again. As we former members know, the “brainwashing” in NKT can be quite effective to repress memory and the events of the past. As a reminder here what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the founder of the NKT, wrote himself:
Cc NKT Central Office, Gen-la Khyenrab, Gen-la Dekyong, Managers & community of KMC Florida and Parbawatiya Center
Letter #1, sent April 13, 2008
Dear Resident Teachers and Administrative Directors of NKT Dharma Centers,
You have received a copy of the letter sent to Sera Lachi, Sera Je and Sera Mey by The Western Shugden Society. From this you can understand that it is very possible that The Western Shugden Society will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama. Concerning this issue, we should know five things:
1. The demonstrations will be organised by The Western Shugden Society, not by the NKT.
2. The Western Shugden Society is the unification of all the Western Shugden practitioners, and NKT is a part of this main body.
3. When the main body, The Western Shugden Society, organises demonstrations, the NKT needs to voluntarily contribute and help.
4. There is no basis to break our constitution or internal rules because this is not organised by the NKT.
5. The Western Shugden Society organising the demonstrations is not for the purpose of the six monks only, it is the method to prevent the destruction of the pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa, and to stop the extremely forceful campaign that the Dalai Lama is doing now to eradicate completely the practice of Dorje Shugden in India and other countries through unlawful actions.
We should recognise that the NKT is not involved politically, simply supporting The Western Shugden Society with these demonstrations. Peaceful demonstrations are respected by democratic governments, it is the position of the people, we should take this opportunity, there is no other method to stop the Dalai Lama´s campaign against Dorje Shugden practitioners.
There are three wheels of Dharma activities: 1) the wheel of studying Dharma, 2) the wheel of meditating on Dharma, and 3) the wheel of working for the Dharma. These demonstration actions are included within the wheel of working for the Dharma. Please keep this pure motivation.
With love and prayers,
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Letter #2, sent prior to April 27, 2008
My Dear Students,
I need help from you to solve the Dorje Shugden problem created by the Dalai Lama. Right now the Dalai Lama is removing the Tibetan Shugden worshipers from the Buddhist community saying that Shugden worshipers are not Buddhist because they worship an evil spirit – Shugden. At the same time he is preparing to remove western Shugden worshipers from the Buddhist community with the same reasons. His aim is to destroy the pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa´s doctrine. To stop this evil action, as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted.
Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need.
With much love and prayers
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso