First hand account of an ex NKT follower of being in the 2008 demonstrations against HH the Dalai Lama

Even with the start of 2016 you will still find strong claims of denial by NKT activists that the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is behind the protests against the Dalai Lama although plenty of evidence has proven this fact. (For a detailed discussion see here.) I was thinking to repost the following account that was written in 2009. When I remember correctly it was posted in the Yahoo New Kadampa Survivors forum founded by David Cutshaw. The Facebook group New Kadampa Survivor Activists made this report public and stated: “We have been asked by the author to keep his/her identity secret so you may wish to ignore everything on that basis. People are wary of the NKT to the extent of thinking that they need anonymity.”

The people that used to run the WSS [Western Shugden Society] website were two people called Kelsang Chokyi and Kelsang Sudhana. They ran the website from a back room behind the NKT internet offices. Lucy and Nick were heavily involved. Sudhana and Karla Hessian (maybe spelled that wrong but she is EPC [Education Program Coordinator] of NY) used to do the videoing at the demonstrations, and these are the videos you see on the WSS website. However, they were very careful that they only allowed people to discuss the demonstrations as WSS and not NKT. The demonstrations were organised by NKT people (e.g. Neil Elliott etc.) and security was organised by the NKT (Kelsang Khyentse, Michel Gautier and other security people) On the day passes were issued to people by the NKT (although using a different logo which apparently represents the WSS) All bus stewards and demo stewards were organised by the NKT and were members of the NKT. Banners and placards were also produced and stored by members of the NKT.

Photo from the 2008 NKT/WSS protests.

For demonstrators the demos were put on as free. So all people had to do was turn up and everything would be paid for (accommodation, travel and food). On demonstrations individual NKT Centres donated food and drink for people to eat on the coaches, and accommodation was almost always in Centres although hotels were provided on some occasions (all paid for). For example on one occasion food and bottled water was provided by Heruka Centre. However, when people on the internet started asking where the WSS got their money from a letter was issued from the NKT secretary that centre money should not be used to send teachers on demonstrations (i.e. flights), so the students should raise the money themselves. Needless to say we know that the NKT expected its teachers to attend, and we all saw what happened to Lucy when not enough support was given. On long bus trips the WSS also handed money to people so that they could buy their lunch, no one knew where this money came from but it was widely referred to as Geshe-la’s [Geshe Kelsang Gyatso] money. In NY, France, Germany and the UK demonstrations it was the same. There were other Tibetan teachers/students that were present at some demonstrations (only ever a handful) however 99% of the attendance was NKT.

In the days after the New York demonstrations (the day when the WSS people were evacuated) Pema told the demonstrators that she had phoned Geshe-la to tell him what happened. Geshe-la apparently laughed on the phone and was delighted. Let me make that clear- he was delighted that there had been a scene between the Tibetan crowd and the WSS. He referred to this as a ‘perfect demonstration’. Pema then said that later Geshe-la phoned up to ask how the students were and if anyone was hurt- this was not his first thought apparently.

The last I knew officially was the last demonstrations in Switzerland (?) were cancelled when the Dalai Lama cancelled his teachings. After that nothing was told to students or teachers. I did take part fully in demonstrations believing it was important to do what my teacher told me, however now I have learned things kept from students about the NKT I regret ever doing so.

See also