Human Rights and the Dorje Shugden Controversy

In summary, the Shugden dispute represents a battleground of views on what is meant by religious and cultural freedom. – Martin A. Mills

The Western Shugden groups brought into the discussion the issue of Human Rights and alleged the Dalai Lama of human rights violations and that he had infringed the right to religious freedom amongst Tibetans by restricting the worship of the controversial protector-deity Dorje Shugden. These allegations became widespread on the international level via the aggressive campaigning of the Western Shugden Groups and were repeatedly reported in the news worldwide (rather often without any deeper investigation about their truthfulness and validity – especially from 2008 onwards.)

The following paper by Martin A. Mills, a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen (United Kingdom), and co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research, examines “some of the causes for the signal failure of those claims, despite relatively strong evidence for the widespread persecution of Shugden worshippers within the Tibetan diaspora context. More broadly, it will examine the degree to which the notion of human rights assumes the context of a particular kind of state ideology – centered around the modern nation-state – and the difficulties that attend articulating the notion of human rights (and their abuse) in the context of transnational theocratic rule.”

Getty Image Capture: “The Dalai Lama, Amidst Protests, Visits Frankfurt” – FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – MAY 14: Supporters of the International Shugden Community (ISC) protest outside a press conference during the current visit of the Dalai Lama on May 14, 2014 in Frankfurt, Germany. The ISC claims the Dalai Lama discriminates against them and denies them religious freedom, while critics charge the ISC is actually a front for the New Kadampa Tradition and brand it as a rigid cult run by fanatics who demand blind obedience from its followers. The Dalai Lama is visiting Frankfurt from May 13-16. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

More academic papers about the Dorje Shugden Controversy and the
New Kadampa Tradition (the organizers of the Anti Dalai Lama protests in the West)