‘Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.’ (24)
- Tibetan Unity
- Administrative Disdain for Human Rights in the Tibetan exile community
- International Laws protecting Religious Freedom as a Human Right
- How the CTA and Dalai Lama are breaking these laws
- How the CTA and Dalai Lama cover up their illegal Ban
- The ostracism of Shugden practitioners from their exile Tibetan community
- Evidence of infringement of Human Rights
- In conclusion
In the case of the Exile Tibetan community the “need” that persuades people to ignore human rights is that the Tibetan community is ‘seen’ to be unified: ‘Some exiled Tibetans fear that Tibetan religion will die without a Tibetan national state to actively promote the Tibetan language along with Tibet’s distinctive culture and customs. These Tibetans are most likely to argue that Buddhism should serve politics, and that bringing
Tibetans together into a coherent, united people is more important than ensuring that the variety of lineages and practices of Tibetan religion can flourish in the contemporary world. For many Tibetans, loyalty to the Dalai Lama effectively trumps religious freedom, though they might not put it so bluntly. Instead, they might speak of “unity” -how important it is to unify all Tibetans behind the Dalai Lama…Sometimes Tibetans and their foreign supporters tend to project an image of old Tibet and Tibetan exiles today as relatively free of sectarian strife. This is understandable, since a positive image has gone a long way towards creating worldwide interest in the Tibetan cause, interest that other refugee groups have not been able to garner for themselves. “Unity of the Church is ideally and practically valued in exile, and great efforts are made by the Tibetan [exile) government to display unity, especially through the Private and Information Offices [of the Dalai Lama in India].”Criticisms, whether from Tibetans or outsiders, are often strongly rejected as harmful to the cause of Tibetan unity and thus, of Tibetan freedom and human rights in China.’ (33)
Administrative Disdain for Human Rights in the Tibetan exile community
How ban on Shugden practice is breaking international human rights laws
The evidence that this characteristic of Fascist governments is prevalent in the system of governance used by the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Authority (CTA), can easily be found on the CTA’s official website, in the section marked, ‘Dolgyal Shugden.’ (1) Several statements in this section persuade the people of the exile Tibetan community that it is acceptable to ignore the human rights of Dorje Shugden practitioners. The CTA use fascist scapegoat techniques to justify this. (See Part Four: Shugden Scapegoat) (2)
International Laws protecting Religious Freedom as a Human Right
The political leaders in the exile community, which includes the CTA, the Dalai Lama, and by association the Buddhist monastic hierarchy, are governed by three sets of laws stating religious freedom is a fundamental human right:
- International law: The Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities, Article 2 states;
‘Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (hereinafter referred to as persons belonging to minorities) have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language, in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination.’ (3)
- Constitution of India: Article 25 states; ‘All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.’(4) ‘Human Right of Non-Citizen in India: The “Humanitarian Jurisprudence” is now an International Creed in time of Peace and War. According to Jean Picket, an authority on Humanitarian Law, “It is based on two basic principles viz. necessity and humanity.” The word Human Right is defined under Section 2(d) of the protection of Human Right Act, 1993 as; “Human rights means the rights relating to life liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by the Courts in India.” The Higher Judiciary in India has always emphasized upon the protection of non-citizen people and often directs the government agencies to follow the International obligations. In a landmark case by the Supreme Court in case of National Human Rights Commission v. State of Arunachal Pradesh reported in (1996) 1 SCC 742, which is now famously known as ‘Chakma case’, for the first time had enlarged the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In the said case, National Human Rights Commission approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and obtained protection for the Chakma refugee from Chittagong Hill Tracts tribal areas of Bangladesh, when their life and security was threatened by the local politicians and AAPSU leaders in the State of Arunachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court granted relief on the basis of the rights of the aliens under Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution of India and held that the Indian Constitution confer certain rights on every human being, may be a citizen of this country or not, which includes right of “life”. Hon’ble Chief Justice of India A. M. Ahmedi, C. J. (as he then was), speaking for the Court, said:- “We are a country governed by the Rule of Law. Our Constitution confers certain rights on every human being and certain other rights on citizens. Every person is entitled to equality before the law and equal protection of the laws. So also, no person can be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. Thus, the State is bound to protect the life and liberty of every human being, be he a citizen or otherwise.” The Supreme Court recently affirmed the said principle of right to life and liberty (Article 21) for non-citizen in its recent judgment while dealing with the case of an FIR filed by police against three Uganda nationals, where it observed that, “Article 21 of the Constitution [right to life and liberty] applies to all citizens, whether Indian or foreign nationals. Their right to liberty could not be restrained by the police due to a business dispute.”‘ (29) If Article 21 of the Constitution applies to all citizens then why are the human rights of Shugden practitioners in India being ignored?
- Constitution of Tibetan Exile Community: Central Tibetan Authority Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, Article 10 states; ‘All religious denominations are equal before the law. Every Tibetan shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These religious rights include the freedom to manifest one’s beliefs, to receive initiation into religious traditions, and to practice with matters relating to religious commitment, such as preaching or worship of any religion, either alone or in community with others.
How the CTA and Dalai Lama are breaking these laws
Initial appearances suggest the Dalai Lama and CTA are in total agreement with these laws, for example the Dalai Lama’s statement on his website concerning human rights;
‘Some governments have contended that the standards of human rights laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are those advocated by the West and do not apply to Asia and other parts of the Third World because of differences in culture, social and economic development. I do not share this view and I am convinced that majority of ordinary people do not support it either. I believe that the principles laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights constitute something like a natural law that ought to be followed by all peoples and governments.’ (6)
However it quickly becomes obvious, on the CTA official website, that in reality the Fascist principle of ignoring human rights ‘because of need’ is clearly being used by the Dalai Lama and the CTA; despite this being illegal, according to all three of the above constitutions. Nowhere is this clearer than In the Kashag’s statement 1996; ‘It is pointless to pay lip-service to religious freedom and democracy if a lack of trust amongst us undermines our cause and the personal security of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.’ (7) (The motives behind the Dalai Lama and CTA making the unsubstantiated assertions that Shugden practice is a threat to the Dalai Lama’s security, and the fight for Tibetan independence, are fully explained in other sections of The Gilded Cage (8) These two statements are a clear contradiction of each other; one from The Dalai Lama staunchly supporting international human rights for all; the other from the CTA saying such rights can be overlooked in certain situations.
When reading any official statements from the CTA and Dalai Lama on the subject of Dorje Shugden practice, the reader is frequently confused and unclear as to the actual meaning of the statements, this is because they are deliberately written in equivocal language. The lack of clarity stems from a conflict between the CTA wanting to enforce discrimination against the Shugden practitioners whilst portraying themselves as a democratic government in favour of human rights. It is particularly important to the CTA that they create the impression of being a democratic community, adhering to international laws, as they are so dependent on funding from the Western world: ‘Excessive reliance on huge funding from the Western countries appears to have made the Tibetan leadership almost forgetful of its immediate neighbourhood. Some suggest that the process of democratization in the Tibetan politics has been initiated out of the desire that if Tibetan government in exile resembled a Western democracy, it would get more support from the West. (9)
How the CTA and Dalai Lama cover up their illegal Ban
Denying there is an official ban
These days the Dalai Lama and CTA are quick to underplay the severity of the ban on Shugden practice in the exile community and try to say that it was only ‘advice’ or ‘suggestion.’ That is because they know that a ban would definitely be breaking their own and international law, so they have to try and disguise what has actually happened.
How the Ban is enforced through the religious hierarchy
By going a little further back in time it is possible to see that there clearly was a ban on the practice, that is the exact word used on the Dalai Lama’s own website by the 100th Ganden Tri Rinpoche, head of the Gelugpa sect. (28) ‘As stated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his recent speeches regarding the worship of gods and protectors, the six major monasteries summoned gatherings at every level – monastic assembly, monastic administrators, monastic sections, individual monks – wherever deemed necessary. Signatures and finger prints of every individual monk supporting the ban on worshipping such dubious deities by any individuals or groups had been submitted.’ The Ganden Tri Rinpoche goes on to justify the actions of the Dalai Lama, in banning a practice that had been a part of Tibetan Buddhism for many generations, by saying, ‘This polemic is not similar to the communal conflicts between the Hindus and the Muslims. This is an inter-sectarian theological strife caused by misunderstandings, which certainly can be solved through clarifications and correcting the things.’ This is clearly a classic example of people ‘being persuaded that human rights of religious freedom can be ignored’ in this case because it is simply ‘theological strife.’
The Ganden Tri Rinpoche completely contradicts himself by adding what amounts to a terrible threat to any of those that continue to practice; ‘As it has been supported by ninety five percent it would be wise and advisable for the rest five percent to stop worshipping the deity keeping in mind that there exists provisions such as the four Severe Punishments (Nan tur bzhi), the seven Expulsions (Gnas dbyung bdun) and the four Convictions (Grangs gzhug bzhi) in the Vinaya (Code of Discipline).’ He states that ignoring the Dalai Lama’s instructions is worse than the most heinous crime preventing the Shugden practitioner from accessing the tantric path to Enlightenment, ‘If sentient beings commit an action as grave as the heinous crimes. He [still] can attain the superior Vajra Vehicle but who from within disregards his master shall never attain, even if exerted. He goes on to say ‘This demonous act of ignoring the advice of His Holiness on spiritual and temporal ground intended for the benefit of Tibetans and masterminding certain detrimental activities in finding slightest differences to your view clearly signifies ones lack of patriotism. Does the sour reality of governmental official needing police and security to escort them on their visit to the monasteries, centers of peace and religion, not become a cause for shame and embarrassment to the Tibetans in general and the monastic centers in particulars? Thus, it is timely to stop this strife by being aware of the grave outcome.’ The threat of such punishments could hardly be described as ‘solving through clarification,’ nor could such words be described as mere ‘advice,’ these are every serious threats of being shamed, ostracised and being denied the path to Enlightenment.
How the Ban is enforced through social pressure
Since the international protests have drawn the attention of the international community and media to the Shugden ban the Dalai Lama and CTA have been trying to cover up the severity of the ban by editing their website to ‘erase’ the language previously used and by trying to spin the language they do use to enforce the ban.
They now deliberately avoid the use of direct language where possible; despite this it is clear, in their official statements, that the people of the exile community are clearly being asked to:
1. Stop their Dorje Shugden practice; ‘In sum, the departments, their branches and subsidiaries, monasteries and their branches that are functioning under the administrative control of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile should be strictly instructed, in accordance with the rules and regulations, not to indulge in the propitiation of Shugden.’(10)
In effect this means that Shugden practitioners will no longer be employed by government agencies nor be able to continue to practice in the monasteries.
2. Should actively stop other people from propitiating Shugden, ‘they should challenge the nefarious designs of the Shugden activists and should not let down their guard.’(10)
3. Report anyone who is propitiating Shugden to the CTA; ‘People should send as much report as possible so that the local government and concerned central government departments of India are kept informed of the activities of Shugden supporters.’ (10)
4. If they do not agree with the ‘advice’ they should educate themselves into this way of thinking, ‘Those who have not implemented the advice properly as a result of being misguided into a state of confusion are requested to get literature and audio tapes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice from the Department of Religion and other concerned departments and officials. They are requested to make their independent decisions immediately after studying these and clearing the doubts in their minds.’ (10)
How the ban is enforced through official laws
The CTA claims that none of the above instructions are an infringement of basic human rights, ‘It must be stated emphatically that giving advice within the context of a particular religious practice on the merit and demerit of propitiating spirits does not by any means constitute the infringement of religious freedom.’ (10) This is apparently because they are only ‘emphatically encouraging’ people to take the Dalai Lama’s ‘advice’, ‘it is up to individuals themselves to decide as they like. We cannot force anyone to do anything against his or her wish.’ (10) On investigation though this claim is quickly proven to be untrue, Shugden practitioners are not left to decide ‘as they like,’ this is illustrated in the 2014 Resolution concerning Dolgyal. (11)
1. That if individual citizens propitiate Shugden, it will ‘harm the common interest of Tibet, the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and strengthen the spirits that are against the religion.’ That the ‘small number of ignorant Dolgyal propitiators have no consideration for Tibet’s spiritual and political interests and the personal security of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.’ In other words the CTA are labelling Shugden practitioners as traitors to their Spiritual Guide and their country.
2. That Shugden practitioners are; ‘Worshipping the worldly gods, particularly spirits for protection, contravenes the principle of following the three refuge in Buddhism. The conference unequivocally proclaims that any individuals or organisation propitiating Dolgyal, would not be affiliated to any Tibetan religious school.” In other words the CTA are stating that Shugden practitioners are going against Buddha’s teachings and are not accepted as Buddhists within their own community.
3. ‘In order to lead the ignorant to righteous path, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile unanimously passed resolutions on 6 June 1996, 17 September 1997 and 15 March 2008.’ In other words the CTA are announcing that their ‘emphatic encouragement’ is backed up by three government resolutions.
4. Also the resolution states that Shugden practitioners, ‘are being deceived by the Chinese government through monetary and material incentive and are used as political tools.’ The CTA are alleging that Shugden practitioners are working for the Chinese to undermine the Tibetan cause.
5. And most chillingly of all perhaps the resolution states; ‘Further recognises also the Dolgyal followers and others – whose have caused grave harm to the faith and polity of Tibet under the Chinese government’s ploy and in violation of the law of Karma – as criminals in history.’ (11)
The CTA again clearly displays the fascist characteristic of persuading people that human rights can be ignored, because of fear of enemies and need for security, in the closing paragraph of the Resolution. The language used in this paragraph is deliberately equivocal and the causes of the ‘need to ensure greater security’ are vague and unsubstantiated: ‘As advised by the intelligence agencies of the US and India on the need to ensure greater security for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan administration and the entire Tibetan people must remain vigilant. Moreover, the Department of Security, the local Tibetan administration, and the Representatives of the Offices of Tibet should maintain close coordination with the central and state government of India and concerned governments of the overseas countries respectively in advance to ensure greater security for His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his visits.’ The evidence to support these accusations of Shugden practitioners being a security risk are not made available, nor is it made clear what the ‘actions’ referred to in the following paragraph are; ‘Recognises clearly the actions of Dolgyal followers as a political tool to create discord within the Tibetan community under the influence and deception of monetary gains, and to denigrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama with baseless allegations.’ What is clear is that the CTA are going to use these vague allegations and apparent threats to security as their reason to ignore the fundamental human rights of the Shugden practitioners; ’The Parliament would like to make it clear that the issue has nothing to do with religious freedom.’ (11) In other words, as in the fascist characteristic explained by Dr Lawrence Britt, CTA are claiming that the human right of religious freedom for Shugden practitioners can be ignored.
The ostracism of Shugden practitioners from their exile Tibetan community
In the face of these accusations made by the Dalai Lama, CTA and monastic hierarchy it became impossible for Tibetan Buddhists in exile to continue Shugden practice. The only way they could continue their practice was to accept being socially isolated from their own community. The Dalai Lama and CTA hold all the political and religious power in the community, there are no opposition parties, and they have control of the millions of dollars coming into the community from the West. In order to carry on practising their beliefs Shugden practitioners are faced with being removed from the monasteries, being refused work, being ostracised from the Buddhist community within the exile Tibetan community, being shunned or reported by family and friends, being labelled traitors to their Spiritual Guide, country and accused of working for the Chinese against their fellow countrymen. It is not true at all to say that these individuals have any real choice in this matter, this is a ban, it is not a choice.
Evidence of infringement of Human Rights
It was obvious to others as early as 1998 that International laws were being violated:
’22 March 1998: There is a public meeting in Delhi on the ‘religious crisis precipitated by the Private Office of the Dalai Lama’. Participants number about 200, including Shri Rathi Lal Prasad Verma, Member of Parliament (BJP Party), Mrs. Dolly Swami, President of Delhi Mazdoor (Laborers), Prof. Dr. P. R. Trivedi, Chairman of the Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment, Shri Dev Anand Mishra, prominent Human Rights Activist, Prof. Ashwani Kumar, Faculty of Law at Delhi University, and other dignitaries. Mr. Rathi Lal expresses genuine pain over the religious ban. He says this is a clear attack on religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. He offers to discuss this issue with his colleagues in government, and to bring it on the floor of the parliament. Dolly Swami notes that as long as Tibetans live in India, their leadership has to live by Indian law. Every Indian leader or academic who speaks on the occasion expresses deep sympathy with all those Tibetans who worship Dorje Shugden, and offers their encouragement. (27) Unfortunately the Government of India and the international community chose to ignore these concerns then and still do to this day.
In what way have the CTA and Dalai Lama infringed the human rights of the Shugden practitioners? The range of violations is described as follows: ‘The substance of the allegations was that, by banning the worship of the Tibetan deity Dorje Shugden, His Holiness and his government had infringed the rights to religious freedom of Tibetan worshippers of the deity, and had persecuted a religious minority. In particular, the SSC and DSDCRS alleged the banning of Shugden worship by the CTA Chamber of Tibetan Peoples’ Deputies, the withdrawal of democratic legal rights within the Tibetan refugee structure, the purging of CTA institutions and the instigation of forced signature campaigns denouncing Shugden worship within Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, house-to-house searches and assault against Shugden worshippers and their families, the withholding of welfare privileges from Shugden worshippers and their families by CTA organisations, the expulsion of monks and nuns from exile monasteries, and the desecration and destruction of Shugden statues and shrines.’ (12) Substantial evidence for these violations is given on the International Shugden Community Website.(13)
In the atmosphere of scapegoating and accusations made by the CTA against Shugden practitioners it is of course difficult for people to come forward and tell their stories. Despite this there is clear evidence of Shugden practitioners being threatened, physically harmed and even coming close to death.
Official Documents enforcing Ban
There is documentary evidence of organisations refusing to employ Shugden practitioners and currently there are no Shugden practitioners employed by the CTA. Lack of access to government jobs also means that Shugden practitioners do not have access to the free medical care, schooling and vocational training that comes with these posts. (15) http://www.dorjeshugden.com/press/proof-of-discrimination/
Apartheid style signs banning entry
The signs displayed around the exile community in shop doorways, temples, libraries and clinics refusing access to Shugden practitioners are another physical manifestation of the discrimination towards this group of people. http://www.dorjeshugden.com/press/proof-of-discrimination/
Expulsion from monasteries
The CTA claim that they are not violating the human rights of these practitioners because they are allowed to practice in private; it should be noted that ‘The Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities,’ Article 2 states that the religious persons have the right to practice in ‘public, freely.’ (3) The Dalai Lama and CTA claim that Shugden practitioners are allowed to practice in the exile community and give the example of two monasteries where monks are ‘allowed’ to practice prayers to Dorje Shugden. There are two monasteries where the monks are ‘allowed’ to follow Dorje Shugden practice in India, this is where the monks who refused to take the oath to stop their Shugden practice live. The monks living in these monasteries have since endured death threats and threats of violence, they are completely ostracised from their own society, live behind high walls (26) and are not allowed to mix with monks in neighbouring monasteries. Many of the children educated in these monasteries have been bullied out of the schools run by the CTA, they cannot mix with their peers and are often spat on and called names by children and adults alike when they walk outside of the monastery walls. These monasteries were not given graciously to these monks, these monks bravely refused to give up their practice, practice in secret, or leave the exile community as the Dalai Lama and CTA had wanted them to. To get rid of them completely there would have had to have been an overt campaign of violence against these monks and that would not have been tolerated by the international community; instead the walls were built and the monks were rendered pariahs in their own society.
Official government ‘hit list’
Many Shugden practitioners have chosen to leave the exile community rather than endure these conditions, some joining the international demonstrations against the Dalai Lama and CTA’s ban on their practice. In response to their joining the protests photographs of Tibetans, seen on the demonstrations, have been published on the CTA’S website, giving the protestors’ names and current locations. Many see this as blatant intimidation of the protestors. Protestors report that they, or family members in India, have received threats as a result of their participation. (16)
There is clearly a great deal of evidence supporting the fact the CTA and Dalai Lama have broken international human rights laws. What is less clear is why the international community allows this situation to continue when it is clearly against United Nations International Law. It is true that the latest Human Rights Watch ‘World Report 2016’ identified India’s poor record at protecting religious minorities: ‘India, the world’s largest democracy, has a strong civil society, vigorous media, and an independent judiciary, but also serious human rights concerns. The government did little in 2015 to implement promises by newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve respect for religious freedom, protect the rights of women and children, and end abuses against marginalized communities.'(32)
The CTA refute any allegations of human rights infringements, stating that Amnesty International have investigated these claims and dismissed them as untrue. In actual fact in the letter concerning these allegations (17) Amnesty International refer to the ‘large amount of material’ they had received, but explain that, ‘None of the material AI has received contains evidence of abuses which fall within AI’s mandate for action — such as grave violations of fundamental human rights including torture, the death penalty, extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detention or imprisonment, or unfair trials.’ This statement does not refute that human rights violations have taken place, just that there is currently not evidence of those particular acts.
Expulsion from Monasteries
If Buddhist monks did not pledge to stop Shugden practice they were expelled from their monasteries. It is important to realise that the monasteries were not just a place of worship for the monks, it was their community and home.
The Drepung Gomand Monastery is proud to announce that if the monks in their monastery refused to pledge not to worship Shugden then they were evicted. (35)
Nevertheless it is disappointing that Amnesty did not act on some of the evidence given, particularly the clear evidence of monks being forced to leave their monasteries. Film footage shows monks who chose not to give up their Shugden practice being forced to leave their monasteries, along with footage of the Dalai Lama taking full responsibility for this action, ‘‘Recently monasteries have fearlessly expelled Shugden monks where necessary. I fully support their actions, I praise them.’ (18) Forced expulsion from monasteries is seen as an extremely serious infringement of religious freedom, it is an action that usually receives international media coverage; such as the expulsion of monks from a monastery near Mosul by ISIS extremists, BBC News, July 2014 (19) Certainly the expulsion of monks from Tibetan monasteries by China has caused a great deal of international condemnation. (20) Indeed Amnesty list the Chinese expulsion of Tibetan monks from their monasteries as one of their ‘grave violations of human rights,’ unfortunately they chose not to act on this same ‘grave violation’ in the exile Tibetan community, as a direct result of the Dalai Lama’s orders. Even though in a similar situation in Vietnam, where a mob were threatening to evict 200 monks and nuns from their monastery, Amnesty called for ‘Urgent Action’ and gave details of their campaign to stop this occurring. (21) The reasons for their lack of action on this occasion are investigated more fully in the article by Dr Martin Mills, ‘This Turbulent Priest: Contesting Religious Rights and the State in the Tibetan Shugden Controversy.’ (14)
An explanation for their lack of response could be the importance of the Dalai Lama as the ‘front man’ for Amnesty’s fund raising campaign to support Tibet. An article by Dr Ursula Bernis explains this is more detail;
‘In the summer of 1996, the Tibetan government in exile was accused of human rights violations by many Tibetans and some of their Western supporters. Since then most critics have been pressured into silence. Although two prominent human rights organizations expressed their concerns privately to the exile government, they refused to do so publicly for several reasons including that it could be seen as undermining the efforts of the Dalai Lama and the much larger and more serious issue of improving human rights in Tibet under Chinese control.I have seen one of the letters shown to me on condition I not disclose it and its source.
‘Perhaps there is a conflict of interest for Amnesty International to investigate human rights cases in the Tibetan exile community. AI, after many years of silence now represent the Dalai Lama’s extremely important human rights campaign in Tibet where abuses are rampant. AI also uses the fame of the Dalai Lama for fund raising purposes. For example, an appeal from October 1998 that includes a letter by the Dalai Lama.’ (25)
Local reaction to the Ban – Exile Tibetan Students
It seems that not everyone in the exile Tibetan community is prepared to accept at face value the Dalai Lama and CTA’s instructions to ignore the Shugden practitioners’ right to religious freedom. During a question and answer session to Prime Minister Sangay, university students raised several questions about the discrimination against the Shugden practitioners. (22) These questions were addressed a few weeks later, July 2014, in a talk given to students by Samdhong, former prime minister of Tibetan parliament in exile, who repeated the questions for the audience: ‘If, in the future, the force and influence of them (Dholgyal followers) persistently remain after the Tibetan issue is resolved, isn’t there the danger of Tibet becoming divided along the same lines as that of India and Pakistan upon partition? One questioners asks if the discrimination meted out to them is justified. Particularly, in the eyes of the student-questioner, it appears to suggest that the Dholgyal followers are discriminated against in the society. The questioner cites such instances as children in schools belittling and disliking fellow students when they discover about their association with Dholgyal, and some restaurants and shops posting notices to the effect that Dholgyal followers are not welcome in their premises. The questioner even uses the English term “social discrimination” and wonders if the above instances do amount to social discrimination. One questioner asks if it is not our obligation to give religious freedom to every person. Another one uses the English term “secularism” and asks if, like in the case of India, it is not binding on us to give freedom to profess or propagate any religion.’ Despite the seriousness of the issues raised by the students Samdhong makes no attempt to deny the instructions from the CTA to reject Shugden practitioners in the exile community, he replies; ‘If one thinks that may be there is a way by which such a unity could be forged by both sides budging a little to make room for each other and give the Dholgyal worshippers the okay to continue with the worship, then (it should be understood that) there is no room for such an immunity. The option is only between continuing and discontinuing the worship.’ (23)
The young intellectuals in the exile Tibetan community are clearly recognising the human rights violations against the Shugden practitioners and questioning their own Prime Minister on the legality and wisdom of such actions. It is clear from the CTA official website that religious freedom is being denied in this case but as in fascist governments before, they try to justify this actions with unsubstantiated accusations; that Shugden practitioners are a threat to national security, the health of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan fight for independence. It seems that the question is not whether the laws laid out in International, Indian and Exile Tibetan constitutions are being broken, the question is only why isn’t the International community doing something about this?