Part Two – Religion and Politics

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Religion and Government are intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.’ (1)

Contents:

  • Trump and the Dalai Lama
  • Buddhism in Mongolia 
  • China’s investment in Buddhism
  • The Dalai Lama and the Hydropower projects in Tawang. 
  • Chösi nyiden – Religion and Politics in One
  • The Absolute Power of Dalai Lama and CTA
  • Myth of the Dalai Lama’s retirement
  • Religion, politics and Tibetan Independence
  • Religion, politics and Dorje Shugden Practice
  • Myth of Democracy in the Tibetan Exile Community

 

Trump and the Dalai Lama

It is said that silence speaks volumes and in the case of the Dalai Lama’s total silence regarding Trump barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, this would seem to be the case. The last time the Dalai Lama publicly commented on Trump’s policies was to say, ‘that he had ‘no worries’ about Trump’s election as US president and looked forward to meeting him after he took office.’ He also said, ‘the world is moving toward peace and non-violence, and he hopes Trump and Putin will come closer and work toward creating global peace.’ (102)

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At a time when other spiritual leaders are expressing concern over this intolerant act his silence is significant: ‘In an interview with an Italian Catholic television station, Vatican Deputy Secretary of State Archbishop Angelo Becciu said Trump’s action was against what the Catholic Church stood for.“Certainly there is worry because we are messengers of another culture, of that openness,” Becciu said. “Pope Francis, in fact, insists on the ability to integrate those who arrive in our societies and cultures.” …During the presidential campaign, Francis drew sharp rebuke from Trump when the pope publicly criticized the Republican candidate’s proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.’ (103)

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Perhaps Trump’s action against accepting refugees even meets with the Dalai Lama’s approval as it is in-keeping with the shocking statements he made about refugees in June 2016: “There are too many refugees in Europe,” and this “makes it difficult in practice” the Dalai Lama said in an interview with German newspaper FAZ published Tuesday. The Tibetan spiritual leader said everyone has a responsibility to help refugees, but added that “there are now too many.” “Europe, and for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country,” said the Dalai Lama, who himself fled from Tibet to Dharamsala, India in 1959. “And morally speaking, I think that refugees can only be taken in on a temporary basis. The goal should be to return them and help them to rebuild their own countries,” he added.’ (104)

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These are not the only shockingly similar similarities between Trump and the Dalai Lama: Trump’s sexist views on women are widely documented: ‘Louise Sunshine, who worked for Trump from 1973-1985, told the Washington Post that the billionaire kept a ‘fat picture’ of her in his desk drawer, that he would take out when she did something he didn’t like.She said it was “a reminder that I wasn’t perfect” and added that she still remembers it today: “When I gain weight, I think of that picture.” Trump called Sunshine’s story “totally false and ridiculous.” (105)

The Dalai Lama has made similarly sexist remarks,  for example when asked about the possibility of a female Dalai Lama he said, she would ‘need to be attractive or not much use.’ Similarly the two’s views issues related to LGBTQ are of concern to many: ‘The election of Donald Trump and running mate Mike Pence set off panic in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities across the country, as people worried which of their divisive campaign promises would come true.Would the President-elect make good on his pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which protects transgender people from discrimination in accessing health care? Will he appoint conservative judges to the US Supreme Court who could roll back marriage equality and other civil rights? Will Pence’s long-ago support for so-called “conversion therapy” translate to a directive for LGBT youth?’ (106) While the Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying: ‘ “It’s part of what we Buddhists call bad sexual conduct. Sexual organs were created for reproduction between the male element and the female element — and everything that deviates from that is not acceptable from a Buddhist point of view,”

Views such as these and political decisions made by Trump have led to many expressing concerns of fascism: ‘All this seemingly erratic behavior can be explained — if not justified — by thinking of Trump as a fascist.’ (107)  The Gilded Cage Articles contain evidence relating to the exile Tibetan community, under the dictatorial control of the Dalai Lama, being run according to  Dr. Lawrence Britt ‘Fourteen Defining Charateristics of Fascism. So it seems that, shockingly, these two politicans have a lot more in common that the world would like to acknowledge.

It seems likely that the Dalai Lama and India have now become important allies to the Trump administration in terms of antagonising and destabilising China’s power base in the Far East. It is clear that Trump’s administration have no intention of holding a conciliatory approach towards China: ‘Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Trump in a phone call and the country’s state media had welcomed his election as harkening a less confrontational policy toward China.Those outlets also applauded Trump’s announcement that he would abandon a US.-led free trade agreement in Asia that had excluded China. But leaders were angered when Trump received a phone call from Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen in December, becoming the first president or president-elect to speak directly to the regime in 37 years.Trump has also accused Beijing of unfair trade practices and pledged to bulk-up the US military, leaving questions as to his ultimate approach to relations with the world’s second-largest economy as he begins his presidency.’ (102)
In fact the approach to China by the Trump administration seems to indicate the likelihood of increased conflict between the two powers: ‘Trump’s closest advisor Steve Bannon thinks there will be war with China in the next few years. Here’s what he said last spring: “We’re going to war in the South China Sea in the next five to 10 years … There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.” “They” in this case being China, perceived by the Trump team as dangerously expansionist and increasingly militarised and confident. Alongside their other crimes, such as undercutting US industry and currency manipulation, this idea of a resurgent China is something of a theme in Trumpist circles.’ It is in context that Trump’s conciliatory approach to Russia becomes more understandable, ‘It is, one suspects, one reason why the rapprochement with Russia is given such importance. Thinking geopolitically, if they do, the Americans now want to work with Russia in order to push China towards deals on economics and defence. This is in fact an analogy to the Nixon opening to China in 1971-72; on that occasion the idea was to pressure the Russians to do a deal on strategic nuclear weapons limitation and pursue détente more widely. That time it worked.’ Trump has stated his intention with regard to Russia: ‘let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” Mr Trump said last month. His administration have already started lifting sanctions to facilitate these deals: ‘Russia’s Tass News Agency said: “US authorities have weakened the sanctions regime against the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB).” (108) It seems the political map of the world’s alliances could be shifting: ‘The sparks that have dominated the initial days of Trump’s presidency have set the stage for increased tensions over global trade and currency regimes. Decades of economic ties are at stake. Signs that the US will favour bilateral trade agreements at the expense of multilateral deals have forced world leaders to define their own red lines, and forge new alliances. (109)

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The current Indian government seems only too happy to support Trump’s policies: ‘President Trump may be in a hurry to overturn many measures of the previous Obama administration, but he appears to seek continuity of the increasingly close partnership America has developed with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In fact, within five days of taking office, the new president called the prime minister to emphasize that desire. It was by all accounts a courtesy call, but important in its symbolism, with the president hailing India as a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world. According to a White House readout of the call, the two leaders discussed opportunities to strengthen the bilateral partnership in broad areas such as the economy and defense. They also resolved that their two countries would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” in the global push against terrorism.’ (110)

It is against this background then that Dalai Lama’s most recent visit to Mongolia becomes even more significant. India, those in Mongolia who facilitated the visit and the Dalai Lama were all aware that the Dalai Lama’s visit would antagonise the Chinese. As is explained in further detail below in Mongolia ‘Buddhism has become one of many forums for rivalries, which are often motivated by the business relationships among the factions of the Mongolian power elite. A faction may organize its business activities, and its policies when in government, to seek support from politico-business interests in Russia, or China, or “third neighbors.” By appointing the former Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture, tycoon MP Kh. Battulga as a trustee to their multi-million dollar Grand Maitreya Project the Dalai Lama and his followers have made it clear which faction is supporting them. (37)  Battulga is a powerful and controversial figure in Mongolia not least because he is ‘known for his deep connections with Russian business’ (39) He was accused of being an agent of Russian influence if not a Russian spy.’ (45)

It seems the Dalai Lama is becoming an increasingly useful pawn to Trump in his aggressive foreign policies, particularly in antagonising China. Sadly it seems that the Dalai Lama is only too happy to accept this role rather than take a stand for compassion as the current Pope has. It seems that political gain is of far more importance to the Dalai Lama than the needs of his fellow refugees across the world.

Buddhism in Mongolia 

‘Authoritarian regimes generally want to co-opt religion as well as curb it; they want to make sure that faith’s huge mobilising power is used to their own benefit and not as an inspiration to their opponents.’ (41)

‘On November 19, 2016, the Dalai Lama arrived in Ulaanbaatar for a five-day visit that was called a religious event by the Government of Mongolia.  In fact, the trip can be seen as the latest move in a geopolitical chess game that has been going on since the 16th century. On his fourth day in Ulaanbaatar, the Dalai Lama held a press conference where he said that he is convinced of the recent rebirth of the Jebtsundampa Khatagt in Mongolia. The Jebtsundampa Khatagt, meaning the “Reverend Noble Incarnate Lama,” is the traditional title bestowed upon the patriarchs of Mongolian Buddhism, which, as an institution, follows the teachings of the “Yellow Hat” sect under the Dalai Lama’s leadership. The newly born Tenth Patriarch is believed to be a reincarnation of a highly placed lama or tulku in a lineage that had nearly been extinguished in the early 20th century.  The announcement puts into play a geopolitical contest where the exiled Tibetan leader and the Governments of Mongolia, China, and India all have a stake in its outcome, to varying degrees.’  (A clear summary of the history leading up to this event is given in the article in the Diplomat ‘The Dalai Lama in Mongolia: ‘Tournament of Shadows’ (85))

It is really important to note the importance of Buddhism in the power play taking place in Mongolia:

‘Buddhism has become one of many forums for rivalries, which are often motivated by the business relationships among the factions of the Mongolian power elite. A faction may organize its business activities, and its policies when in government, to seek support from politico-business interests in Russia, or China, or “third neighbors,” the generic term used to describe other nations that have the resources to play a role in the Mongolian economy. It appears that the use of Buddhism by factions is often unrelated to a genuine commitment to the faith’s underlying spiritual message. Rather it can be a tool for self-interest.’ (85) It is difficult to get a clear picture of the true intentions of those involved in the rivalries, like trying to map out the shifting sands of the desert: ‘While Mongolia adopted a democratic system of government in 1992, the country’s elites have taken over the controls of politics and the economy through factions that are sometimes in a bitter rivalry. The existence of such battles is typically cloaked from the view of foreign observers. Moreover, the local press in Mongolia is beholden to the views of their corporate owners. Public discussion of shadowy private rivalries is discouraged. While speculation about cleavages in the power structure abounds, it is difficult to obtain confirmation, especially since factional alliances continually shift.’ (85)

What is completely clear is that having ‘control’ of the prevailing Buddhist tradition in the country gives factions of the power elite a significant financial and political advantage. It is therefore in the interests of all parties, wishing to influence the Mongolian Government and economy, to invest financially and promote a particular Buddhist tradition, in order to reap significant financial and political gains.

Background to the Dalai Lama’s relationship with Mongolia

’The mid-November 2011 surprise four-day visit to Mongolia of the 14th Dalai Lama reignited simmering Chinese worries about how the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader is using and is being used by its northern neighbor and important mineral trade partner. From China’s perspective, the Dalai Lama’s Mongolian visit, appearing in the guise of a purely private matter to promote his teachings, actually is intertwined with Northeast Asian mineral resources politics as well as interference in Tibetan affairs—thus a deliberate ratcheting up of anti-Chinese sentiment along its borders. From the Dalai Lama’s perspective, who has made eight trips to Mongolia (the last in 2006), that nation increasingly is seen as an answer to how to handle the sticky question of his own succession and how to wrest it from the control of the Chinese Government. For over a year, rumors have persisted inside Mongolia that a new reincarnation might be found among genetically-Tibetan-blooded Mongols in the country’s Gobi provinces. The Dalai Lama reportedly wanted his successor chosen while he is still alive—an impossibility—and that the boy had been selected from among 300 children from Nepal, India, Mongolia and Kalmykia Russia (Undesnii Shuuden, September 15, 2011). Although the Mongolian boy’s name and location were not mentioned, the same newspaper correctly predicted the November visit.This religious matter has become a significant factor in the diplomatic game Ulaanbaatar is waging to counterbalance Chinese economic monopolization, which has become a contentious and negative issue in domestic politics. At the same time, Mongolian political leaders appear willing to bet that Chinese public unhappiness over their support of the Dalai Lama will not damage their overall bilateral economic relationship. As the nation prepares for its June 2012 parliamentary elections, leaders of both main parties—the Mongolian People’s Party and the Democratic Party—are seizing upon the issue of religious freedom and historical solidarity with the Dalai Lama to project a defiant Mongolian nationalism toward increasing Chinese trade dominance…

The Mongolian political and national security establishment calculated that the economics of the issue was not so simple, since the majority of bilateral trade now involves Mongolian rich mineral deposits in copper, coal and gold that flow to northern Chinese factories for refining and use in the booming Chinese economy. When deliberating the risks involved in allowing the Dalai Lama’s visit, Mongolia guessed correctly that any disruption to the flow of these raw materials would be considered more destructive to China than to Mongolia and so, in all likelihood, would not happen. Mongolian mining companies based near the Chinese border in fact did not report any disruptions to border transport connected with the visit.

How the “Dalai Lama Card” will be used in the future is a question that is destined to roil Sino-Mongolian relations. It is very likely that Mongolian politicians will continue to mix the promotion of traditional Tibetan-style Buddhism for national identity purposes with the right of the Dalai Lama to visit Mongolia regularly. Such policies tweak the nose of the southern neighbor to the delight of Mongolian domestic opinion without incurring genuine economic damage, at least this time. If the Dalai Lama decides to “retire” to Mongolia for long religious retreats as he has suggested he might, or if his next reincarnation is discovered on Mongolian soil, the Mongols may now believe their booming mineral-based economy will continue to protect them from serious Chinese retaliation. Concurrently, the Dalai Lama himself has been able to use his relationship with the Mongols to promote confusion and concern in Beijing over how to manage the situation without causing major self-inflicting wounds. It is certain that eventually the Chinese will develop a more integrated response to these developments, but when religion, nationalism, economics and politics are all involved, the strategies for all the concerned parties must be both sophisticated and convoluted.'(50)

The Dalai Lama’s 2016 visit to Mongolia

India and China

It does seem that Mongolia and India had begun to think that China, despite its threats, would not retaliate if another visit was made to Mongolia by the Dalai Lama. Some felt that India had fallen behind China in its exploitation of Buddhist influence: ‘For over a decade, India watched in dismay how China, its so called nemesis in Asia, used Buddhism as a soft power tool to charm and maneuver South Asian countries out of India’s zone of influence. Many of India’s Asian neighbors, including China, have historical Buddhist ties to India, which India could have exploited to take the helm in the Buddhist world. India “surrendered the mantle of being the custodian of Buddhist heritage and its leadership role in the Buddhist world” due to its own neglect and indecisiveness…Approximately 98 percent of the world’s Buddhist population resides in the Asia-Pacific region and a billion people or 80 percent of the China’s total population is Buddhist according to some estimates. Therefore, any Buddhist soft power strategy India may plan for the Asia-Pacific region has to be considerate of the sentiments of the Buddhists living in the Asia-Pacific region, including the billion or so in China. Ignoring Buddhism as a soft power resource would be at the peril of India’s influence in the region and its ambition of becoming a global power.’ (59)

The fact that China seems to be making greater advances than India in terms of exploitation of Buddhist influence and the age of the Dalai Lama may have led to India supporting the Dalai Lama’s 2016 visit to Mongolia. (More detailed information about how India has supported the Dalai Lama’s relationship with Mongolia are given in the article in the Diplomat, ‘The Dalai Lama in Mongolia: ‘Tournament of Shadows’ (85))  What is also significant is the reference to the Indian diplomat facilitating the Dalai Lama’s links to Buddhists in Russia; ‘In the 1979, he assisted the Dalai Lama by arranging for his first official visit to Ulaanbaatar and subsequently helped arrange for further visits there and to the Buryat Buddhist community in the Soviet Union.’ (85) Supporting the Dalai Lama’s links with Russia would also have the effect of weakening China’s control of Buddhism across the region. It may also be that India would have the support from the United States, under Trump, for a policy that weakened China’s position while strengthening Russian influence in Mongolia.

‘Mongolia had sought India’s help in overcoming the economic crisis caused by the high tariff levied by Beijing on Mongolian trucks.’  (86) It seems that China is simply not prepared to allow India to interfere in its foreign policies, China’s response to the Dalai Lama’s 2016 visit was hard hitting: ‘Beijing’s repercussion to the visit was anticipated. China imposed a new fee on commodity shipments between the two countries at Gashuun Sukhait, a major border crossing between China and Mongolia. Furthermore, it canceled all the bilateral interaction with Mongolia and postponed the bilateral meeting that was seen as crucial for Mongolia to access badly-needed Chinese loans and developmental projects as Mongolia mired in an economic recession was seeking emergency loans from bilateral partners and international institutions.’ (87)

As a result of the imposed sanctions and before India could instigate any financial support that they had promised to Mongolia, the Mongolian government apologised to China and made the following promise: “Under this current government, the Dalai Lama will not be invited to Mongolia, even for religious reasons,” Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil told the Mongolian newspaper Unuudur on Tuesday.’ (88)

Following on from this China issued the following warning to Mongolia regarding strengthening their relationship with India:  ‘However, state-run Global Times today criticised Mongolia for approaching India. “Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia vows to remain a neutral state to benefit from both sides without having to get involved in a major-power competition,” it said in an article. “However, it also hopes it could seek a third neighbour, (India) which can enable the country to reap more profits by gaining more bargaining chips. But Mongolia should be alerted that it cannot afford the risks of such geopolitical games,” it said. “Mongolia seems naive about the way international relations work – you cannot harm a country’s interests while hoping it can reciprocate nicely,” it said, adding “Mongolia should know that mutual respect is the precondition to develop bilateral relationships and hitch a ride on China’s economic development”. “It is even more politically harebrained to ask for support from India, a move that will only complicate the situation and leave a narrower space to sort the issue out. We hope the crisis-hit Mongolia will learn its lessons,” it said.’ (89)

‘This by no means is a new argument between Delhi and Beijing. But there is a gathering intensity to it that could add to the current turbulence in Sino-Indian relations. If Tibet is at the very heart of the Sino-Indian disputation over territorial sovereignty and much else over the last six decades, the Dalai Lama has personally embodied the dynamic tension between the two Asian giants.’ (90)  It seems that Mongolia and India underestimated the strength of China’s response to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Mongolia.

Battulga and Russia

The role of Buddhism in Mongolian politics is further complicated by the possible influence of Russia. There has already been reference to India facilitating the Dalai Lama’s visit to Russia.

Another possible area of Russian influence comes in the form of the Mongolian tycoon and politician, Battulga. The Grand Maitreya project was initiated by the former Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture, MP Kh. Battulga. (37) He is currently listed as one of the trustees of the project which is under the ‘spiritual guidance’ of the Dalai Lama. (91)

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Battulga is listed as the third wealthiest man in Mongolia, with a net worth of $1.2 billion in 2013. (38)

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Battulga is a powerful and controversial figure in Mongolia not least because he is ‘known for his deep connections with Russian business’ (39)  ‘Much greater controversy erupted when the minister of Industry and Agriculture and parliament deputy “Jenko” Khaltmaagiin Battulga, in an interview with the Russian media, stated that “of course, we support Russia as neighbors” on the question of Crimea …Battulga, a world sambo (judo) champion, was accused of being an agent of Russian influence if not a Russian spy.’ (45) ‘Battulga – known for his deep connections with Russian business – is clearly looking to destabilize the already precarious political balance in Mongolia. His aspirations for the Prime Ministership are widely known and he took the failure of the “Double Dael” Bill to distance himself from the Democratic Party (DP) line, that is if a factious of grouping that is DP could even have a party line. Battulga even stopped attending DP meeting, one of which recently discussed a media campaign that he recently launched accusing many of the Mongolian MPs and officials of selling out to the Chinese and jeopardizing Mongolia’s national security. He went as far as to incite some commentary on racial composition of Mongolians distinguishing between “pure” Mongolians and those with mixed blood, particularly Chinese.'(39)

It is extremely difficult to tease out the structure of the power play behind the scenes of Buddhism in Mongolia, it is possible that by backing the Grand Maitreya project Battulga saw a way of reducing China’s influence over Buddhism in Mongolia. Buddhism is a valuable resource, not only is it the source of huge financial profit with regard to selling Buddhist merchandise, it brings with it unquestioning obedience to the Guru. If that Guru figure is prepared to use their considerable influence for political gain, as the Dalai Lama is clearly prepared to do, (See Gilded Cage Articles for further information) then he becomes a valuable asset to any political leader.  By investing multi-millions in building what is, in effect, a shrine to the Dalai Lama, the Grand Maitreya Project could significantly weaken China’s ‘religious “Confucius Institute” to control not only monasteries, temples and lamas within Tibet but also those in exile, including Dharma centers worldwide.’ It also considerably, therefore, weakens the Chinese foothold in Mongolia.

This would not be the first time that Battulga has worked to undermine China’s influence over Mongolia it seems: ‘Mongolia’s dependence on China is growing day by day to a point where the country is essentially being sold out to its southern neighbour. Nevertheless, the standard gauge proposal for south-bound rail lines makes tremendous economic sense by significantly reducing the costs transport for Mongolia’s main exports. Mongolia’s independence can be much better developed and protected through a coherent investment policy that encourage increased third neighbour participation, thus mitigating the Chinese influence. Trouble is that Mongolian patriotism is a very elusive concept and many of the DP establishment who are ready (to) hang Battulga for his admittedly highly inappropriate tactics have enriched themselves through dealing with the Chinese, at times to the detriment to Mongolian national interests.’ (39)

China and Mongolia

The reasons for China wanting to invest in and control Buddhist organisations and traditions can be understood from Jamyang Norbu’s comment : ‘Beijing is creating a kind of religious “Confucius Institute” to control not only monasteries, temples and lamas within Tibet but also those in exile, including Dharma centers worldwide. I know a few that have already been taken over.’ (32) As Jamyang rightly warns if the Chinese also control the next ‘reincarnation’ of the Dalai Lama they will have significant influence over Buddhist populations around the world. This control brings with it political control and access to the Buddhist ‘cash cow.’

There is a possibility that China were trying to undermine the Grand Maitreya project from the outset by investing heavily in a city that would have surrounded the central statue and temple complex. ‘The next country to jump on the smart city bandwagon could be Mongolia, with plans for a new eco-metropolis near Ulaanbaatar. However, critics argue that it is little more than a project designed by Germans architects for Chinese investors. This month, Mongolia’s parliament will vote on the feasibility of the construction of a new cultural and religious capital – ‘Maidar’ – out in the steppe 30km from Ulaanbaatar. What started as humble drawings for a model eco-town for 20,000 people has been redesigned as a city for 300,000 in light of a population crisis in the nearby capital city. However, the building of Maidar might be a talking point for everyone except Mongolians. Maidar has been planned by the German architect company RSAA in collaboration with the Grand Maitreya Foundation and will be built to German environmental standards. With wind and solar farms included in the plans, there are hopes that it will become a beacon of sustainability.The city will be planned from the centre working outwards in a series of commissioned phases. First, the central Maitreya statue and Buddha complex will be built, followed by concentric hubs for housing, offices, schools, healthcare and tourism…For such a grand and oasis-like project, the main issue is money. Chief architect, Stephen Schmitz, admits that funds are coming from eager Chinese investors who will buy off portions of the project.’ (48)

More information is given below on possible attempts by China to construct their ‘religious Confucius Institute’ in this area of the world.

Reincarnation of the Dalai Lama

The promise by the Mongolian government not to allow the Dalai Lama back onto Mongolian soil is extremely significant for those who may have been hoping that the Dalai Lama would die in Mongolia, as this ‘would solidify the connection to the next Dalai Lama being ‘found’ in Mongolia.’ (92)  Having the next Dalai Lama in Mongolia and not in Tibet would reduce China’s ability to control the next Dalai Lama. However it seems that China currently has such strong influence over Mongolia, through economic sanctions, that they will be able to exert control over the next Dalai Lama whether in Tibet or Mongolia. If the Grand Maitreya project and the Dalai Lama’s recent visit were all attempts to undermine Chinese influence and set the stage for the next Dalai Lama to be established in Mongolia, free from China’s ability to control, then this appears to have failed, due to the harsh sanctions imposed by China.

The Shugden scapegoat in Mongolia

With the setting up of the Grand Maitreya Project it is obvious that the Dalai Lama has backing from powerful political and religious leaders in Mongolia. These include Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin, the President of Mongolia, billionaire politician Battulga Khaltmma, the leader of Mongolian Buddhism His Eminence Khambo Lama Gabju Choijamts Demberel, Lama Jhado Rinpoche and the Venerable Thupten Ngodup, the State Oracle of Tibet. (93) The backing of such influential people, together with the Dalai Lama’s position as Spiritual Guide to millions of his followers, means the Dalai Lama could have considerable influence over the political and economic decisions made by Mongolia. Mongolia and the countries surrounding it are fully aware of the economic and political advantages that come with ‘controlling’ Buddhists; this is done through the instructions of their spiritual teachers. Buddhism also brings access to the millions of dollars that are pumped into temples in the form of offerings, purchasing merchandise and paying high prices to attend Buddhist teachings and empowerments. In order to have full control over Buddhist society in Mongolia a scapegoat campaign has been taking place to weaken the position of the Shugden community. The division in the Buddhist community between the Shugden practitioners and followers of the Dalai Lama is explained in more detail in Gilded Cage Articles ‘The Shugden Scapegoat.’  In the Mongolian Buddhist community  the division is being deliberately strengthened, even enforced, through teachings and communications sent into the Mongolia from the Dalai Lama and his followers. The division is then being utilised by super powers in international politics to strengthen their own strategic position and weaken the political position of others.

It should be of concern to the international community that the Dalai Lama will use his position, and his substantial economic and political backing in Mongolia, to scapegoat and discriminate against Shugden practitioners in the Mongolian Buddhist community; as he did in the exile Tibetan community in India. If this happens the Shugden practitioners in Mongolia are at risk of physical threat, ostracism and removal from their communities, loss of homes and livelihoods and loss of equal rights; just as happened to Shugden practitioners in the Tibetan exile community. (Evidence of this is laid out in the Gilded Cage Article – Shugden scapegoat and the video below)  The international community need to be vigilant around this strategy and this time work to support the Shugden community in Mongolia, as they failed to do in India, by actively opposing the scapegoat tactics.

The Dalai Lama is using the same excuse that he used in the exile Tibetan community to carry out his Shugden campaign, that Shugden practice ‘threatens unity.’ As explained in the Shugden Scapegoat article. ‘He already had absolute political power, but to obtain absolute societal power as well, he felt he needed to unite the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism into one (under his authority). Then all of Tibet would be fully united and be able to speak with one voice (his). Towards this end, he became a staunch advocate of the Ri-me movement (a movement which seeks to practice all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism together). Those who resisted his efforts, including (but not limited to) Dorje Shugden practitioners, became seen by him to be a threat to his objective to unite all of Tibet.’ It is against the religious beliefs of Shugden practitioners to have their tradition amalgamated with other traditions; just as say Catholics and Protestants, whilst both Christian, do not feel they can be amalgamated into one ‘joint’ religion because fundamentally they have differing beliefs.

The Dalai Lama is clearly aiming to amalgamate all the Buddhist traditions in Mongolia under one spiritual leader, himself. This can be seen in the aims laid out by spokespeople for the Grand Maitreya Project: ‘With centers representing different Buddhist lineages and spiritual traditions from around the world, Fouts said, the site will be “a unique place for all spiritual traditions to come together in peace.”’ That would really only be all spiritual traditions prepared to blindly follow the Dalai Lama. (94)

‘The statue site will also feature non-sectarian & international Buddhist temples representing many different lineages & traditions from around the world. Making the statue complex a unique place for all spiritual traditions to come together in peace.’ (95)

The spokespeople also make it clear that the person heading up all of these traditions is the Dalai Lama: ‘At the heart of the Mongolian people’s spiritual re-connection and under the spiritual guidance of HH 14th Dalai Lama is the Grand Maitreya Project.’ (95)

Whilst the claim is that the site will be inclusive and non-sectarian the Dalai Lama and his followers have made it clear that Shugden practitioners or indeed anyone that opposes the Dalai Lama’s ‘guidance’ will not be welcome.

Independent observers are aware of and commenting on the role of nationalism and Shugden practice in the growing tension within the Buddhist community in Mongolia. Two academic researchers into Mongolian Buddhism, working independently of each other, have both identified the importance of Shugden practice in the history of Mongolian Buddhism; both researchers have also identified that there is very significant, international political implications to the division between the Buddhist traditions in Monglia:

In the book ‘Change in Democratic Mongolia: Social Relations, Health, Mobile Pastoralism’ academic Matthew King, Assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California, describes the political implications: ‘Buddhism in Mongolia today is largely taken up ‘with ethnicity’ not with faith. The particular revivalism of Zawa Rinpoche is fiercely nationalistic, and opposed to a Tibetan-affiliated authority structure, though certainly individual Tibetans and a traditional Tibetan Geluk ritual programme are core components of his rebuilding project. For his community Mongolian Buddhism ought to be (and always has been) a distinct religious tradition, and so through the particular historical content of his programs, ample evidence is given for a (nearly) timeless independent ethno-religious exceptionalism. In fact, this was the basis for his entire camp. Other revivalist groups see a Mongolian Buddhism that ought to have deeper contemporary ties to the Tibetan government in exile, Tibetan Geluk monastic traditions and the Dalai Lama. These groups too propound a particular historic continuity as a basis for their revivalist constructions, and often battle lines are drawn along doctrinal grounds, (such as those associated with the Dorje Shugden controversy, a topic still deserving an intensive, unbiased study)’ (96)

The ‘controversy’ referred to is the Dalai Lama’s ban on Shugden practice: ‘The Dalai Lama believes that aggressive sectarianism threatens Tibetan unity. He has decreed that while the followers of Dorje Shugden may continue to worship the deity, his own followers should not permit devotees of Shugden to be initiated into the Kalachakra.’ (85)The academic Tal Liron, University of Chicago, was able to explore the Shugden controversy as it is playing out in Mongolia while doing research for his dissertation. Liron is respected as an academic for speaking about difficult topics, ‘Liron’s professors speak of him with admiration. “He will speak his mind,” said Professor of English Andrew Parker, “and he won’t be held back by some vague sense of etiquette.’ As did Matthew King, Liron understood that the Shugden issue and Mongolian nationalism are both significant factors in the global chess game played our between Mongolia’s neighbours: ‘Many groups worked hard at connecting Mongolian Buddhism to the world, which includes incorporation of New Age approaches, such as yoga and vegetarianism. On the other hand, the nativist impulse surprised me with its forcefulness. Since the 14th Dalai Lama’s edict against Shugden worship in 1976, many Mongolian Shugdenites have found themselves cast out of the religion’s orthodoxy, but this has imbued some of them with nationalist vigor: in defiance of the Dalai Lama, Shugden worship was thriving at the time of my fieldwork. In between, an alternative grand narrative of Buddhism was being forged, which had the potential to challenge the authority of the Dalai Lama and, considering Mongolia’s own complicated relationship to China, could have ripple effects on the issue of Tibetan sovereignty.’ (97)

In a public talk about his dissertation, entitled ‘Telescopic Nationalism: Visions of Mongolia in Time and Space, Liron says that in Mongolia, ‘the Shugden narrative is hiding in plain view. The struggle is exactly about who gets to silence whom in this historical moment that is unfolding before our very eyes.’ Liron talks about the lineage of the Mongolian Buddhism and how descendants of Genghis Kahn may carry the ‘seed’ of the lineage, from that seed may come the Fifteenth Dalai Lama. Liron goes on to say (at 45 Minutes into the film) : ‘By setting himself against Shugden the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in fact revealed himself to be a false incarnation, the true incarnation must be here in Mongolia right now. Thus there is no need for Mongolia to wait its turn, the torch of Buddhism has already been passed. Mongolian Buddhists do not have to keep a low profile until the Tibetan political issue has been resolved they can and should take leadership right now. This narrative represents a potentially explosive blend of religion and nationalism. This is a shocking development I think in the Buddhist world and one that is yet to severely make waves. It could be that nothing will come of it really, it is also not the final word, The Dalai Lama’s teachings are still taken very seriously in Mongolia despite the popularity of Shugden.’ (98)

King and Liron are identifying the wider implications of the Shugden controversy as it plays out in Mongolia. Later in the Q&A section of his talk Liron acknowledges the vulnerability of Mongolian politics and religion, because with ‘no clear leadership’ there are ‘various points of influence’ and Mongolia and its Buddhist traditions are being caught up in the strategic power play of the international community. ‘Mongolian supporters of the Dalai Lama sometimes imply that the Shugden sect is a front for Chinese politico-business interests that pose a threat to Mongolian sovereignty. Devotees of the Shugden sect in Mongolia claim that the Dalai Lama’s supporters seek to derail economic cooperation between Ulaanbaatar and Beijing in furtherance of the interests of allies in Russia. Such views are mostly promoted through whispering campaigns rather than a full and open discussion of the issue.’ (85)

Although the Dalai Lama and his followers like to minimise the size of the Shugden community in the West, in Tibet and in Mongolia, independent articles all acknowledge a strong Shugden presence in the country. ‘In 2014, the Trijang Rinpoche, a 32 year-old monk and a leader in the Shugden sect, visited Ulaanbaatar to perform rites to Dorje Shugden in a state museum that once was a temple associated with the deity.’ (85) Liron states: ‘Shugden worship was thriving at the time of my fieldwork.’ (98) A recent article on the website of Tsem Rinpcoche, a Shugden practitioner based in Malaysia states that ‘On December 11, 2016 His Eminence Zava Damdin Rinpoche conferred Yamantaka initiation and Dorje Shugden sogtae (life entrustment). 10,000 ordained monks and lay people attended this auspicious occasion held at the Buyant Ukhaa Sports Complex in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.’ (99)

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The Scapegoat Campaign in Mongolia

The evidence that the campaign to undermine and ostracise the Shugden Buddhist community in Mongolia had already been started by the Dalai Lama and his followers:

1.  On the official CTA website there is a description of the teachings the Dalai Lama gave to 600 Mongolians in December 2014.

teaching

A large chunk of the description is about the Dalai Lama’s teachings on Dolgyal (the derogatory name used by the CTA for Shugden practitioners) The teaching sounds reasonable enough but within it is a clear threat to the Mongolians that bad things will happen to them if they continue to Shugden practice: ‘If you take my advice and stop, nothing bad will happen to you.’ (100) This threat can be seen in two ways: that if they continue to practice something spiritually bad would happen to them eg they would go to the hell realms; or the threat is more secular as many Tibetan Shugden practitioners have direct threats made to their lives, are physically attacked, evicted from monasteries and cast our from their own communities. (See Gilded Cage Shugden Scapegoat for more evidence)

2. The most clear example of the scapegoat propaganda come in the foreword of a book the Dalai Lama refers to in this teaching: ‘His Holiness mentioned that under the Ganden Tri Rinpoche’s guidance the Gelugpa Association has produced a book that investigates the whole issue very thoroughly. He recommended that it would be good to translate it into Mongolian.’ The foreword is written by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche: ‘I am very happy that the monks of Idgaa Choizinling in the Mongolian city of Ulaanbaatar have translated into Mongolian the second book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama advising not to practice Dolgyal. This is good for oneself and others in this life and in all future lives. In order to definitely spread this advice in Mongolia, the former Namgyal Monastery Abbott Kyabje Jhado Rinpoche (who is involved in the Grand Maitreya Project) promised to print this, which is extremely kind.’ The foreword is packed with many of the scapegoat strategies used by the Dalai Lama and his followers and should be read in full. (101) However just this one statement will show how far the Lama is allowed to go: ‘This reliance on Dolgyal, be it by pure Dharma practitioners or by those for business or financial reasons, I wonder if this has not been more harmful than the forceful annexation of Tibet by the Chinese Government and the destruction of the teachings of the Buddha.’ These words are chosen to stir up hatred and cause division, division that can only be harmful to unity in the Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist communities . The foreword also plays on people’s fear: ‘Therefore, relying on Dolgyal is extremely harmful to oneself. I think this is also a great harm to the world in general, as well as to sentient beings and to the teachings of the Buddha.’ ‘Those who strongly practice Dolgyal eventually end up dying in the most dangerous manner.’ (101)

By translating these words into Mongolian and introducing the book into Mongolian society it is clear that the Dalai lama and his followers fully intend for the Shugden practitioners in Mongolia to be hated, vilified and ostracized as they are in India and Tibet

3.Finally in the Q&A section of his talk Liron refers to a letter that was circulated to Mongolian Buddhists, ‘Dalai Lama did write to say he was concerned about the practice of Shugden in Mongolia, this was translated into Mongolian and spread here.’

It is not possible at this stage to predict what will happen now that Mongolia have bowed to China’s economic sanctions and promised that the Dalai Lama will never be able to enter Mongolia again. The absence of the physical presence of the Dalai Lama will not end the scapegoat strategies against the Shugden practitioners. It is in the interests of America, India and Mongolians who are pro-Russian to build up the importance of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan traditions within Mongolia as this will weaken China’s influence over politics through Buddhism. This situation could escalate as the question over the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama becomes of key strategic importance to all countries involved.

China’s investment in Buddhism

The following is an attempt to gather articles relating to China’s soft power policy of influencing politics through projects linked to Buddhism, with high levels of secrecy it is impossible to get a clear picture.

A significant article published in the online BBC Magasine, in January 2015; ‘China’s super rich Communist Buddhists,’ has also led to some interesting questions about the relationship between the Dalai Lama and China. (27) The article contains a film of the Dalai Lama meeting with Xiao Wunan, a former senior Communist Party official with links, through family, to the Chinese President. The meeting took place in India in August 2012 but Xiao only released the film to the BBC in January 2015.

‘Xiao was introduced to the BBC by a Chinese businessman, 36-year-old Sun Kejia – one of an unknown, but reportedly growing number of wealthy Chinese, drawn in recent years to the mysticism of Tibetan Buddhism…Buddhist monks need the money and dozens, perhaps hundreds, are now prospecting for funds in China’s big cities…China however is not only allowing this Buddhist evangelism to take place but may now be actively encouraging it.There have been reports that President Xi Jinping is – relatively speaking – more tolerant of religion than his predecessors, in the hope that it will help fill China’s moral vacuum and stem social unrest.And there have also long been rumours that members of the Chinese elite have been interested in Buddhism, including Xi Jinping’s wife, Peng Liyuan.The president’s father, Xi Zhongxun, a Communist Party revolutionary and leader, is himself reported to have had a good relationship with the Dalai Lama before he fled China in 1959.And that’s perhaps where Xiao Wunan comes in, because another unsubstantiated rumour has it that his father was also close to the president’s father…

Xiao Wunan’s exact role when he was in government is unclear – “just call me a former high official”, he says. He also insists that he was not acting as a Chinese government envoy when he met the Dalai Lama. He says he was in India in his capacity as the executive vice chairman of an organisation called the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF). APECF is often described as being backed by the Chinese government and is involved in some pretty substantial influence building, including a multi-billion-dollar investment in developing a Buddhist site in Nepal.’

The BBC article raised concerns with Tibetans in the exile community with some political commentators accusing the BBC of spreading Chinese propaganda: ‘Does anyone, apart from those in denial, deluded or plain innocent of mind consider governments act with integrity, honesty and a genuine commitment to human rights? If political systems forged from founding principles of justice, democracy, freedom and accountability to their citizens indulge in deception and manipulating public opinion it is naive on a colossal scale to regard information sourced to from China’s totalitarian regime as being factual, balanced or free from propaganda. Such a reality of course is not allowed to obstruct the mainstream media’s goal of pumping out tasty morsels of news, no surprise then that the BBC today released a report of a 2012 meeting between the Dalai Lama and Mr Xiao Wunan.’ At the same time the writer of the article acknowledges that the meeting could never have been unofficial; ‘One thing for sure his contacts with the Dalai Lama and Karmapa would not have happened without the consent or knowledge of China’s government, the same authority which consistently rejects any overture of compromise offered by the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan Administration.’ (28)

Interestingly the charity, International Campaign for Tibet, whose representatives are generally viewed as spokespeople for the the Dalai Lama, did not announce the meeting when it took place. They are also notably vague about what took place in the meeting when they finally responded to concerns expressed in the community when the video was released.

‘Activities of individuals like Xiao Wunan who claim connection to the Chinese leadership might be an indication of an increasing view in Beijing on approaching the issue of the Dalai Lama and Tibet. However, Xiao Wunan’s organization, Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, was founded to promote China’s “public diplomacy” and so his outreach to the Dalai Lama can also be viewed from this perspective.’ (62)

A respected journalist living in India, Claude Arpi, refers to Wunan as ‘The shadowy Mr. Xiao.’ (55) Arpi is extremely skeptical about the reasons for the meeting between the Dalai Lama and Wunan:’If Xiao is a Chinese emissary, a messenger, there is no doubt that some of his visits abroad are related with the fact that Beijing has tried to project a ‘soft’ image of a Middle Kingdom, which could become the leader of the Buddhist world.
Yes, Beijing would like to be Marxist and Buddhist at the same time!
Already in July 2011, The China Daily had announced a plan to raise US $ 3 billion to turn Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal into a Mecca for Buddhists: “a Hong Kong-based transnational foundation signed a memorandum with a United Nations agency that promotes industrialization in developing countries. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization will rely on its Beijing-based investment and technology promotion office for China to offer technical support for the project in Lumbini, Nepal.”
This then, it appears to have been shelved, at least temporarily.
But from where this money would have come from?
From the cash box of the Party?
The Chinese publication then affirmed: “As part of the project, the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation has promised to bring roads, communication equipment, water and electricity to Lumbini, a poverty-stricken United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site that attracts about half a million visitors a year.”
Isn’t it amazing?
Who is this APECF?
The China Daily says that the board is composed amongst others of Steven Clark Rockefeller Jr.; Jack Rosen, chairman of the American Jewish Congress; Leon H. Charney, a real estate tycoon and former US presidential adviser; Prachanda, leader of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist); and Paras, the former Nepali crown prince known for his excesses.
In 2011, Xiao Wunan, executive vice-chairman of the foundation had explained that the Lumbini project will help “transcend religion, ideology and race” and rejuvenate the culture and spirit of Buddhism. …Buddhist dignitaries from around the world, including those from the Mahayana, Hinayana and Tibetan schools of Buddhism, have expressed enthusiasm about the plans.”
There is little doubt that some Chinese officials, with the help of Xiao Wunan would like China to take the lead in the world Buddhist movement.’ Arpi is particularly interested in where the funding for these projects is coming from:’Xiao Wunan has a particularity: he likes to be photographed with important persons. One can understand, as he probably has to report to Beijing about the huge amounts of money he lavishly spends when he moves around.
Bizarre Affair!
Later, he was spotted in the United States.
As one of the characters in the BBC reportage admits, today in China, one becomes Buddhism to get richer.
It looks like the case of Mr. Xiao. It is true that to get rich in China was till recently relatively easy (with or without Buddha’s help).
The question remains: who are Xiao’s sponsors?
Some rumours have linked an APECF’s Vice-Chairman with Zhou Yongkang, the demoted former member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee. Is Mr Xiao’s money coming from in oil, gas, media, hospitality and communications?
It is up to Wang Qishan and his Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to find out.
But presently, Xiao Wunan is doing well …till his karma catches up with him!’

The article on the ChinaDaily website, that Claude Arpi refers to, suggests the reasons for the development in Nepal could be the fact that  ‘Mecca and the Vatican, in comparison, each draw more than 5 million tourists a year,’ there is a huge amount of profit to be made from such tourism.  (56)

China’s ‘soft power’ policy is well known and is clearly being deployed in the world of Buddhism as Sepala Weliwitigoda, an International relations commentator  explains : ‘Realizing the potential of Buddhism as a foreign policy bonanza, China quickly took initiatives to claim the guardianship of Buddhism in the world. China convened the First World Buddhist Forum in 2006, the Second Forum in 2009, and the Third Forum in 2012. The China Regional Cultural Communication Association (CRCCA) recently announced that the Fourth World Buddhist Forum will be held in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi in October this year.  Last year China hosted the 27th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB).The 2006 World Buddhist Forum was the first large-scale event to gather in one country Buddhist representative from all over the world from all Buddhist denominations, and the first time ever that China held an international religious conference of any kind since communist rule was established in 1949 or in its 2000-year Buddhist history.’ Sepala feels India have missed out on opportunities to use their strong ties to Buddhist culture and history in the same way: ‘For over a decade, India watched in dismay how China, its so called nemesis in Asia, used Buddhism as a soft power tool to charm and maneuver South Asian countries out of India’s zone of influence. Many of India’s Asian neighbors, including China, have historical Buddhist ties to India, which India could have exploited to take the helm in the Buddhist world. India “surrendered the mantle of being the custodian of Buddhist heritage and its leadership role in the Buddhist world” due to its own neglect and indecisiveness…Approximately 98 percent of the world’s Buddhist population resides in the Asia-Pacific region and a billion people or 80 percent of the China’s total population is Buddhist according to some estimates. Therefore, any Buddhist soft power strategy India may plan for the Asia-Pacific region has to be considerate of the sentiments of the Buddhists living in the Asia-Pacific region, including the billion or so in China. Ignoring Buddhism as a soft power resource would be at the peril of India’s influence in the region and its ambition of becoming a global power.(59)

The Dalai Lama would have been aware that Xiao Wunan had been leading on the multi billion dollar APECF project, ‘to transform the town of Lumbini, regarded as the Buddha’s birthplace, into a sprawling tourism, pilgrimage and education centre modelled on Mecca in Saudi Arabia…Mr. Xiao said the project would serve as a “strategic centre point” for promoting Buddhist culture, with renewed interest in Buddhism in China, where there are several hundred millions of followers of the faith.’ Signifcantly Xiao also said the project “has received the full support from Buddhists representing different parties – Mahayana, Hinayana and Tibetan Buddhism – and had been warmly welcomed by various entities.”’

Although Mr Xiao claims that the project has not received money from the Chinese Government directly; ‘“When we proposed the project to the [Communist] Party and the country’s leadership, we at once had their positive support.”’ An article in ‘The Hindu’ also stresses the APCEF is a ‘Beijing-based organisation, backed by the Chinese government’ which has ‘already raised half of its proposed $3 billion target for the venture from investors in China and overseas.’Xiao boasts: ‘“I have no concern about meeting our $ 3 billion funding target,” Mr Xiao said. “We have already had a lot of interest from Chinese companies, and also from across the world, including the Middle East.”'(29) The APECF project has since been shelved, despite the fact the APECF had ‘signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UN Industrial Development Organisation,’  because Nepal rejected the plans. ‘Nepal’s culture secretary Mod Raj Dotel told reporters that the Nepal government will not allow the plans to go forward saying the government “had no formal intimation of the MoU and read about it in the media”.’ “Since the deal was struck between two organisations, which have no relation with Lumbini, keeping its actual stakeholder (Nepal) in dark, we have no obligation to recognise it,” The project was shelved for political reasons, ‘There has been growing resentment against the deal signed in Beijing which many Nepalese see as a move undermining Nepal’s sovereignty.’ (30) This was in July 2011, so the Chinese Government were left holding a large amount of money and nowhere to invest it.

The Grand Maitreya Project

The question is whether the meeting between the Dalai Lama and Wunan has anything to do with the Grand Maitreya Project in Mongolia. With the Nepali government rejecting the Lumbini project did China have to look elsewhere to develop their ambitious plans?

Xiao Wunan said the Lumbini project would bring together three schools of Buddhism Mahayana, Hinayana and Sakya. (31) His plans are interestingly close to the plans for the ‘Grand Maitreya Project’ in Mongolia: ‘The presently projected Maitreya complex includes inter-denominational Buddhist temples, meditation and retreat facilities, a state-of-the-art ecologically assisted power system, a hotel and commercial establishments, and sport facilities such as tennis courts; as such, it is anticipated to combine aspects of tourism, leisure, theme park, religious and spiritual center, technological marvel, commercial outlet, and resort.’ (63)  ‘This site was also described as inter-denominational: ‘ “has received the full support from Buddhists representing different parties – Mahayana, Hinayana and Tibetan Buddhism – and had been warmly welcomed by various entities.”'(51)

An article about the Grand Maitreya Project by Bataa Mishig-Ish, who appears to be a project trustee, describes the project as being funded by ‘private funders’: ‘To revive Buddhist culture and education in Mongolia, several prominent individuals in Mongolia came together to establish “The Grand Maitreya Foundation” in September 2010. This foundation has been registered by the Ministry of Law and Internal Affairs as a foundation with the status of a non-government organization. The main organizational functions of the foundation are; promote Buddhist cultural and educational activities, support the publication of books with educational purposes, organize cultural and art events for preserving the traditional cultural values, establish effective institutional relations with similar Buddhist institutions overseas, and implement the Grand Maitreya Project, the largest Buddhist complex to be ever built in Mongolia. The Grand Maitreya Project is being implemented under the patronage of the President of Mongolia. The project concept was spearheaded by the Indra Future Foundation, which remains its major supporting private foundation.’ (63) There seems to be very little, if any, information available about the Indra Future Foundation on the internet.

There is an interesting lack of clarity over when the Grand Maitreya project started: The official website says 2009:

2009

Whereas the official article by one of the trustees says September 2010:

2010

The project is of great political significance as indicated on one of the Project’s crowdfunding sites: ‘Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin, the President of Mongolia, declared on February 8, 2013 that he considered the project to be part of the nation’s re-development. He considered creating the highest statue of Maitreya Buddha along with a Stupa of Buddha’s speech and bliss, an important step. He spoke of the value and significance of the project for the re-balancing of the entire country and for the world.‘ 

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Xiao Wunan’s visit to America February 2016

In an article on the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) website an article entitled, ‘A new start in Sino-US relationship,’ describes Mr Wunan’s visit to USA this year: ‘On February 4, at the invitation of a number of agencies, Xiao wunan, executive vice chairman of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) and Anna Xiong, founder and Chairman of the Guangzhou Trade and Cultural Association in Los Angeles paid a visit to the United States at the beginning of the New Year. During this visit, they had discussed several issues on how to build up a new type of Sino-US relationship covering exchanges and cooperation in the economic, cultural and social field. A number of agreements had been achieved as a result. The delegation visited Los Angeles first, where they had carried out in-depth discussions with Congresswoman Judy Chu, California State Treasurer John Chiang and State Sen. Zhou Benli on economic, cultural and educational cooperation between the state of California and China. The “Sino-US cultural industry fund” initiated by the APECF and other organizations had attracted great attention from the state government which wanted to vigorously push forward the fund’s development. The delegation had also reached consensus with the famous think tank Phelps & Philips LLP to jointly set up think tanks, which are conducive to the development of Sino-US relationship and could play a constructive role in addressing conflicts and disputes between both countries. The focus on the visit is to strengthen educational cooperation. The APECF had established widely partnership with the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). During this visit to the University of California-Riverside, both sides have reached agreement of cooperation regarding the “China Forum” initiated by university. Mr. Xiao Wunan would be invited to deliver a keynote speech at the forum in April of this year….Sino-US relations have been the most important bilateral relations for both countries, which also exert decisive impact on the prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific region and the world at large. The APECF has played a positive, active and unique role in Sino-US relationship for a long time and made great achievements in this regard. The visit will undoubtedly galvanize the development of new type of Sino-US relationship in terms of implementation of specific programs, sending a positive signal at the start of the new year.’ (51)

Interestingly California seem to have strong links with the Maitreya Project International: ‘The Maitreya Project is an international organisation, operating since 1990, which intends to construct statues of Maitreya Buddha in India and perhaps elsewhere.’ (52) dissolved(53)

The Charity was set up from ‘The Land of Medicine Buddha’ Dharma Centre, an FPMT Centre with founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe and our Spiritual Director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. (54) The organisation raised millions of dollars over the period 31.12.2005 to 02.10.2012.

graph(52)

The charity dissolved in 2013 after stating it would be more ‘effective’ for the FPMT to take over the funding role, the FPMT having apparantly paid off the debt of $647,491 in late 2012. (The meeting between Xiao Wunan and the Dalai Lama took place in August of that same year.)

dissolution

‘Mr. Xiao Wunan (right), executive vice chairman of APECF, and Mr. John Chiang (left), California State Treasurer, pose for a group photo.’

20160207-2

As mentioned Mr Wunan also visited UCR, University of California Riverside. This University has a strong interest in Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia as the appointment of Matthew King to Assistant Professor indicates. ‘ His teaching and research broadly focuses on Tibetan and Mongolian religious identities in their transnational contexts since the early twentieth century.’ (57) Mr King has recently won a grant to study Buddhism in Mongolia. (58)

Funding for the Grand Maitreya Project

Currently there is a western fundraising appeal for the ambitious Grand Maitreya Project, ‘The Complex will be located in front of Heart Hill in the Uguumur Valley just outside of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The Complex will feature international Buddhist temples and centers representing many lineages and traditions from around the world. The Complex will also be home to a new temple for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a meditation pavilion for up to 5,000 people. The inner complex will be surrounded by Buddhist temples and centers of all traditions. As well as educational centers, an amphitheater, cinema and a Buddhist hotel.’ (34) The website for the project appeals for donations for the project with crowdfunding platforms to raise money. This is however clearly a multimillion dollar project and it is highly unlikely that it would be built on the back of crowdfunding platforms, no matter how many ‘very special keep-sake Mongolian calligraphy post cards’ are given in return for donations.  The crowdfunding platform aimed at Westerners, particularly America (judging by the presence of Robert Thurman as one of the Trustees of the charity) states as it goal: ‘Our overall goal is to raise funds to complete the statue. We are aiming at $70,000 from this Fundly support campaign. This will allow the Project to pay for additional statue constructions costs and to create special events and other fundraising campaigns in North America. Which will in turn help raise the additional and final statue construction funding. Contributions through this Fundly campaign will be put towards:

  • Construction of the statue.
  • Construction of Buddha relics housing.
  • North America fundraising events activities.
  • Western founding sponsor program.’ (43)

As this is clearly a multimillion project and the Fundraising platform is only aiming to raise $70,000, to pay for the ‘additional and final statue construction,’ there is clearly a wealthy funder behind the project.

Certainly the similarly named ‘Maitreya Project’ funded by the Californian based ‘Maitreya Project International’, with almost identical aims, failed to raise enough money through their fundraising activities for even a large statue, let alone acres of parking, temples and hotels. The FPMT ‘Maitreya Project’ campaigned for funds to erect a large statue of Maitreya in India. Despite working very hard on this they were unable to raise the funds needed, as Lama Zopa explains on their website: ‘We discovered much later that we made some wrong decisions with respect to expecting more money for Maitreya after we spent some or hoping to get a big amount and so forth. That didn’t work out. So we did make some mistakes along the way.’ As Peter Kedge, the project director until 2012, explains the obstacles were enormous: ‘At times the legal, social, financial, technical, and logistical, challenges have seemed overwhelming and insurmountable. A succession of truly fearless directors and project staff have faced and overcome difficulties and situations which, without any exaggeration at all, have been unthinkable and unimaginable.’ (61)

Interestingly Peter was replaced in 2012 by Ms Nita Ing,  Taiwanese-born American president of Continental Engineering Corporation, also ‘National Policy Advisor, Office of the President of the Republic of China.’  (62) This would have been not long after the Nepalese rejected China’s plan to build a Buddhist super-hub in Nepal. The restructuring of the Maitreya Project came, therefore, in the same year, 2012, that  Xiao Wunan ‘unofficially’  met with the Dalai Lama in India, according to the film released to the BBC. It was later in 2012 that the FPMT made a large payment to the ‘Maitreya Project International’ and it was dissolved. It is somewhat unclear what Ms Ing and ‘her team’ have accomplished on the Bodhgaya statue project since taking over in 2012, perhaps they have been busy elsewhere? If this project had so many obstacles and problems raising money for a similar project how can it be that the Grand Maitreya Project can overcome all of this and raise millions of dollars through crowdfunding?

The reasons for China wanting to invest in projects like this are explained in Jamyang Norbu’s : ‘Beijing is creating a kind of religious “Confucius Institute” to control not only monasteries, temples and lamas within Tibet but also those in exile, including Dharma centers worldwide. I know a few that have already been taken over.’ (32) As Jamyang rightly warns if the Chinese also control the next ‘reincarnation’ of the Dalai Lama they will have significant influence over Buddhist populations around the world. This control brings with it political control and access to the Buddhist ‘cash cow.’ 

As unthinkable as it would be to many Tibetans and supporters of the Tibetan cause that the Dalai Lama would work with China on such a project a newspaper article gives evidence that the huge statue for the Grand Maitreya Project is being made in China:’ The statue was made in Hebe province in China, then assembled and brought to Mongolia.’ China was also one of the consultants on the project: ‘Ch. Enkhmaa, international relations manager said: ‘’The Grand Maitreya Buddha must last a thousand years. For that, we consulted with leading experts from Britain, China and other countries.'(46)

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Maidar Eco City

The Maitreya Statue and the Buddhist centre, including the Dalai Lama’s temple will be at the centre of a huge eco-city. (60) The architect working on the project gave more information: ‘Schmitz told GCR that the idea for a settlement began when the Grand Maitreya Foundation decided to build a 54m-high statue of the Buddha in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the southern side of the Bogd Khan mountains, about 20km from Ulaanbaatar. A private consortium of Mongolian companies backed by wealthy investors then decided to surround the statue with cultural and religious buildings, and a town for 20,000, built to strict ecological standards.’ (61)

Another article also suggests that China are involved in funding the project:’ The architecture firm RSAA, where Schmitz works, has years of experience in China and Mongolia. More than ten years ago the company won the bidding for planning the construction of China’s Tianjin eco-city….Schmitz pointed out, however, that while all Mongolian Ministeries have been open to the idea of the new eco-city, the country remains largely dependent on foriegn funds and consultants for its realization.”Many investors particularly from China, are interested in taking part in this project.”‘ (47)

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A third article calls the project ‘The next country to jump on the smart city bandwagon could be Mongolia, with plans for a new eco-metropolis near Ulaanbaatar. However, critics argue that it is little more than a project designed by Germans architects for Chinese investors .This month, Mongolia’s parliament will vote on the feasibility of the construction of a new cultural and religious capital – ‘Maidar’ – out in the steppe 30km from Ulaanbaatar. What started as humble drawings for a model eco-town for 20,000 people has been redesigned as a city for 300,000 in light of a population crisis in the nearby capital city. However, the building of Maidar might be a talking point for everyone except Mongolians. Maidar has been planned by the German architect company RSAA in collaboration with the Grand Maitreya Foundation and will be built to German environmental standards. With wind and solar farms included in the plans, there are hopes that it will become a beacon of sustainability.The city will be planned from the centre working outwards in a series of commissioned phases. First, the central Maitreya statue and Buddha complex will be built, followed by concentric hubs for housing, offices, schools, healthcare and tourism…For such a grand and oasis-like project, the main issue is money. Chief architect, Stephen Schmitz, admits that funds are coming from eager Chinese investors who will buy off portions of the project.’ (48)

An article on the Chartered Institute of Building website highlighted the danger of Chinese investment leading to the Mongolian government losing control of the huge project: ‘Schmitz says that the demand for homes and the desire of industries such as tourism and media to relocate means that conditions for investment are perfect. “So it’s not a question of money, it’s a question of how to organise it,” he said. In fact, one problem is that there is too much money coming into the scheme from one source. “Chinese investors want to take it all,” Schmitz said. “I think the Mongolian company, Maidar City, which is in charge of the project, must consider that they need different investors. If they give it all to one then they will lose their power to manage the project.”’ (49)

Mongolia are certainly not adverse to accepting money from China:

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The question has to be asked why the Dalai Lama agreed to meet with Xiao Wunan? Tibetans are urging people around the world to boycott Chinese products until they have improved the conditions for those living in Tibet. Why would the Dalai Lama go against this ‘boycott’ to be a leading figure in a project that appears to be funded by the Chinese? Most Tibetans would understandably see this as a betrayal. Interestingly the International Campaign For Tibet described the meeting with the Dalai Lama and Xiao Wunan as being; ‘yet another indication of how Tibetan Buddhism can be a positive factor in bringing the Chinese and the Tibetan people closer.’ (33) It would seem there are double standards at work, when Shugden Buddhists are the recipients of a scapegoat hate campaign (See Part Four: Shugden Scapegoat) primarily based on their alleged links to Chinese funding, but the Dalai Lama and FPMT are free to work closely with the Chinese.

Conflict of interests

It is surprising that China is apparently funding a project so closely linked to the Dalai Lama, one which would increase the popularity of the Dalai Lama in Mongolia. An article by Alicia J Campi suggests that it could be the promise of financial gain, greed, that overrides the acrimonious relationship between China and the Dalai Lama:’The mid-November 2011 surprise four-day visit to Mongolia of the 14th Dalai Lama reignited simmering Chinese worries about how the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader is using and is being used by its northern neighbor and important mineral trade partner. From China’s perspective, the Dalai Lama’s Mongolian visit, appearing in the guise of a purely private matter to promote his teachings, actually is intertwined with Northeast Asian mineral resources politics as well as interference in Tibetan affairs—thus a deliberate ratcheting up of anti-Chinese sentiment along its borders. From the Dalai Lama’s perspective, who has made eight trips to Mongolia (the last in 2006), that nation increasingly is seen as an answer to how to handle the sticky question of his own succession and how to wrest it from the control of the Chinese Government. For over a year, rumors have persisted inside Mongolia that a new reincarnation might be found among genetically-Tibetan-blooded Mongols in the country’s Gobi provinces. The Dalai Lama reportedly wanted his successor chosen while he is still alive—an impossibility—and that the boy had been selected from among 300 children from Nepal, India, Mongolia and Kalmykia Russia (Undesnii Shuuden, September 15, 2011). Although the Mongolian boy’s name and location were not mentioned, the same newspaper correctly predicted the November visit.This religious matter has become a significant factor in the diplomatic game Ulaanbaatar is waging to counterbalance Chinese economic monopolization, which has become a contentious and negative issue in domestic politics. At the same time, Mongolian political leaders appear willing to bet that Chinese public unhappiness over their support of the Dalai Lama will not damage their overall bilateral economic relationship. As the nation prepares for its June 2012 parliamentary elections, leaders of both main parties—the Mongolian People’s Party and the Democratic Party—are seizing upon the issue of religious freedom and historical solidarity with the Dalai Lama to project a defiant Mongolian nationalism toward increasing Chinese trade dominance…

The Mongolian political and national security establishment calculated that the economics of the issue was not so simple, since the majority of bilateral trade now involves Mongolian rich mineral deposits in copper, coal and gold that flow to northern Chinese factories for refining and use in the booming Chinese economy. When deliberating the risks involved in allowing the Dalai Lama’s visit, Mongolia guessed correctly that any disruption to the flow of these raw materials would be considered more destructive to China than to Mongolia and so, in all likelihood, would not happen. Mongolian mining companies based near the Chinese border in fact did not report any disruptions to border transport connected with the visit.

How the “Dalai Lama Card” will be used in the future is a question that is destined to roil Sino-Mongolian relations. It is very likely that Mongolian politicians will continue to mix the promotion of traditional Tibetan-style Buddhism for national identity purposes with the right of the Dalai Lama to visit Mongolia regularly. Such policies tweak the nose of the southern neighbor to the delight of Mongolian domestic opinion without incurring genuine economic damage, at least this time. If the Dalai Lama decides to “retire” to Mongolia for long religious retreats as he has suggested he might, or if his next reincarnation is discovered on Mongolian soil, the Mongols may now believe their booming mineral-based economy will continue to protect them from serious Chinese retaliation. Concurrently, the Dalai Lama himself has been able to use his relationship with the Mongols to promote confusion and concern in Beijing over how to manage the situation without causing major self-inflicting wounds. It is certain that eventually the Chinese will develop a more integrated response to these developments, but when religion, nationalism, economics and politics are all involved, the strategies for all the concerned parties must be both sophisticated and convoluted.'(50)

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The leaked communication
Two recent articles in the Indian newspaper, ‘The Sunday Standard,’ May 2016 contain details of a communication from a close aide to the Dalai Lama suggesting there are secret plans for a project between some of the Tibetan Buddhists and China:  ‘Is the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama cosying up to China, contrary to the public perception? A recent communication reviewed by The Sunday Standard shows that his aides are planning to reach out to the Chinese, which could have seismic effects on India’s interests in the region..At the centre of the controversy is a shadowy power struggle between the two sects—the Geluks and Drukpas—over control of the powerful monasteries in Ladakh. The communication is from Jangchup Choeden, who is the Chairman of Gelugpa Monastic Disciplinary Council and a close aide of the Dalai Lama. Tempa Tsering, a prominent representative of the Dalai Lama in Delhi and a senior member of the Tibetan Government in Exile, is part of a committee to coordinate with the Chinese embassy over a project involving Tibet’s supreme spiritual leader. According to sources, the intended rapprochement with China, if it happens, is meant to tone down the differences between the Dalai Lama and the dragon, and ensure the smooth succession of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa. His appointment was the only public point of agreement between the Dalai Lama and China. So what is the ‘project’ Tempa Tsering mentions and who all are part of it? The communication reveals that he has managed to convene a meeting led by important Tibetan spiritual leaders close to the Dalai Lama for his health, longevity and success of his mission, not clarified by Jangchup.’ (63)

‘Jangchup’s  communication further states, “Yesterday I wrote emails to all other sects of Tibetan Buddhism to welcome them to join this important project.” Jangchup told The Sunday Standard that he is not aware of any such communication. He denied warming up to China by the Dalai Lama, saying that no member of his team has spoken to Chinese officials. He said he is part of a project for a celebration across Tibet, India and elsewhere.“On one hand they have been inviting anti-Beijing activists to speak at Dharamshala, but on the other initiate secret talks with the Chinese, which is a serious matter,” sources said.'(64)

The Dalai Lama and Hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh

The Dalai Lama’s scheduled visit to Arunachal Pradesh is set to disrupt India -China relationships.  ‘The Dalai Lama has been invited to Arunachal Pradesh by Chief Minister Pema Khandu, whose coalition government includes the BJP. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader last visited the border state in 2009. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet. Earlier this week, it objected furiously to American ambassador Richard Verma’s trip to the Northeastern state, warning America not to “meddle” in the border dispute with India.(84)  Why are the Indian government prepared to disrupt their relations with the Chinese government, and why the visit from the Dalai Lama at this time? The reason could lie in the fact India have lost popularity in the area due to division over Hydropower projects in the area and they may be looking to win back ‘hearts and minds.’

In order to fully understand the religious and political implications of the unrest in the Arunachal Pradesh area is it important to be aware of it’s geographical significance:’Located at the south-western extremity of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang shares borders with Bhutan to its west and Tibet to its north. It nestles in the eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 3,400 meters. Importantly, Tawang is part of the roughly 90,000 square kilometers of territory — roughly approximating with Arunachal Pradesh — that China lays claim to in the eastern sector of the disputed Sino-Indian border. In 1962, when China and India fought a border war, Tawang was part of the vast swath of territory occupied by China. Although China subsequently withdrew from land it occupied in the eastern sector -– this has remained under India’s control since – it has reiterated claims over it from time to time.When India conferred statehood on Arunachal in 1986, for instance, Chinese troops made deep incursions into Arunachal at Sumdurong Chu. China has objected to Indian infrastructure projects in the state on the grounds that this is disputed territory….The visit of the Dalai Lama to the area is highly signifcant in this area because; ‘Tawang is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama and the monastery there is Tibetan Buddhism’s second largest after the Potola Palace in Lhasa. Unrest in a border area, especially one where its control is disputed by China, is hardly in India’s interest. Protests there could provide China with a useful handle to stoke anti-India sentiment that would serve to weaken India’s hold over this strategic territory. This makes it imperative for India to ensure that anger and alienation from the Indian state do not deepen in this crucial border state. The Buddhist Monpa people have been fiercely pro-India and Tawang has been peaceful for decades. Unfortunately, India’s plans for building hydro-power dams in the region are generating unrest…Anti-big dam activists say that the government has not consulted the local communities before issuing environment clearances, and is acting in support of the hydro-power companies to silence those opposing the projects.The issue has divided Tawang’s monks too. Guru Tulku Rinpohce, the abbot of the powerful Tawang monastery, is said to have prevented monks living in the monastery from participating in the anti-dam campaign.. This rift among the monks has in turn divided Tawang society… Tawang is now simmering with anger.’ (79) It looks like the Dalai Lama’s visit to the area is an attempt to pour oil on troubled waters.

Background to the police shootings of demonstrators

    ‘Itanagar/Tezpur, May 2 (2016): At least two persons died and eight were injured when police opened fire on people protesting against the arrest of a Buddhist monk at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh today.Lama Lobsang Gyatso, a Buddhist monk and the general secretary of Save Mon Region Federation, which has been opposing mega dam projects in Tawang and West Kameng districts, was taken into police custody on April 26 after an audio clip surfaced where he allegedly said that Guru Tulku Rinpoche, the abbot of the famous Tawang Monastery, should distance himself from hydropower issues in the districts. He also allegedly questioned the abbot’s nationality, claiming that he was from Bhutan. Gyatso was released that evening but arrested again on April 28 after an FIR was lodged against him at Tawang police station.’ (65)  ‘The incident has triggered public anger with the police’s use of extreme force to deal with the crowd. Even if the protestors were pelting stones and hurling glass bottles as alleged by the police, the latter could have used rubber pellets rather than live ammunition to disperse them. It is widely believed that the police were acting at the behest of the powerful hydropower lobby in the state. The incident has triggered concern in India’s security establishment given Tawang’s strategic significance.’ (79)

‘Lama Nima Wangde, a student at the Tawang monastery, fell to one of the several hundred bullets fired by policemen that also killed one other person and injured at least eight on May 2, 2016. The cops had opened fire without warning and without an official order. The district administration erred by detaining the monk-turned-activist Lama Lobsang Gyatso, general secretary of Save Mon Region Forum (SMRF) under a non-bailable section for the second time within 48 hours. He was first arrested on April 26 on the charge of leading a protest at Gongkhar village, where the six-megawatt Mukto Shakangchu hydel project is coming up, and again on April 28 for defaming Guru Tulku Rinpoche, the abbot of Tawang monastery. His jailing for 72 hours on flimsy grounds led hundreds of angry supporters to troop into the prison complex and culminated in the tragic turn of events. Despite having four days’ time and intelligence inputs, the administrators failed to respond appropriately.’ (66)

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‘Guru Tulku Rinpoche, abbot of the Tawang Monastery, described the police firing as “unfortunate” and appealed to all sections of society to maintain peace. However, a section of monks of Tawang Monastery have blamed the abbot for the incident and demanded his resignation. “A majority of the lamas (monks) in the monastery has demanded the resignation of Guru Tulku Rinpoche because they feel that he was equally responsible along with the police for the death of two persons on Monday,” Lobsang Thapke, secretary of the monastery said.

Thapke told The Indian Express that the abbot could have easily averted Monday’s tragedy had he asked the police to release Lama Lobsang Gyatse, secretary of the Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF). Thapke said the monks would soon write to the Dalai Lama to appoint a new abbot.’ (68)

Later the Abbot of Tawang monastery, appointed by the Dalai Lama, resigned: ‘DHARAMSALA, May 16: Guru Tuklu Rinpoche, the abbot of 400-yr-old Gaden Namgyal Lhatse monastery, popularly known as Tawang monastery has offered his resignation to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama following an accusation by a section of monks for trying to disrupt the anti-big dam movement.

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Guru Tuklu Rinpoche, abbot of Tawang monastery. (Deccan Herald)

A section of monks led by Lama Lobsang Gyasto accused Rinpoche of trying to derail the anti-big dam movement at the behest of hydropower developers.’ (69) The Dalai Lama reluctantly accepted the resignation and refused to appoint a new Abbot in his place. ‘Lama Lobsang Gyatso is secretary of the Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), an organisation of the Monpa community in the Mon-Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh, spear-headed by Buddhist Lamas. “The group has been advocating socio-culturally and ecologically sensitive development in the Mon-Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh”, says Thakkar in a social media post.“This has included protesting against ecologically destructive hydropower projects, demanding accountability in execution government schemes and development projects, as well as exposing corruption”, he adds. The incident happened against the backdrop of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on April 7, 2016 suspending environmental clearance of the 780 MW Nyamjang Chhu.’ (70)

‘Kumti Majhi, Lama Lobsang Gyatso, Ramesh Agrawal and Praful Samantaray might not be names you’re familiar with, but these men were at the centre of a David and Goliath legal battle waged by four ordinary Indian citizens against massive, powerful companies, British mining company Vedanta, Indian steel manufacturer Bhilwara Group, Korean giant POSCO, and Indian conglomerate Jindal. The man who helped take them on and win? Environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta. An Ashoka Fellow and award winning lawyer, Dutta serves as the Secretary of The National Green Tribunal Bar Association in India, and recently spoke as part of the Australia India Institute’s ‘Inspiring India’ series in Melbourne.’

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… according to the Environmental Justice Atlas India has the highest number of environmental conflict cases. Why? Dutta overlaid the coal map of India, the forest map of India and the tribal map of India. They overlap perfectly. The struggle for the environment is the struggle for social justice for India’s most marginalised, her indigenous tribal peoples. He talked of the disproportionate impact of the damage caused by hydroelectricity and mining projects on tribals. Though they are only 8.3% of India’s population, they form 40% of those displaced by development projects, and have the least access to the results of development such as access to water, electricity and sanitation. He quotes Arundhati Roy, “The millions of displaced people in India are nothing but refugees of an unacknowledged war.”

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… In Arunachal Pradesh, Lama Lobsang Gyatso and Dutta fought against a proposed network of 15 hydroelectric projects by the Bhilwara Group on the basis that it affected the cultural and religious sites of the local Monpa tribe. One amongst these sites was a three kilometre stretch of the Nyamjang Chhu River, the wintering sites of the highly protected black necked cranes, believed by the Monpa to be the reincarnation of the 6th Dalai Lama. The judgement favoured the cranes.’ (82)

Gyatso is clear that he believes politics, money and corruption are the driving forces behind the projects: ‘Local media quotes sources in your organisation as saying your arrests were politically motivated. Yes, the motive was very clear. The SMRF is preparing to file a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against the Mukto Shakangchu hydel project. Even though over 90 crore rupees were officially spent by the state government on the project, most of what was constructed has been washed away by the river waters within three-and-a-half months of completion of work for use of sub-standard material. I don’t want to name anyone here but those who minted money from the project are now certainly afraid of us. They want to intimidate us this way. Do these arrests anything to do with the recent decision of the NGT to suspend the environment clearance of the Nyamjang Chhu project in response to the SMRF’s appeal? Of course, it is linked to my arrests. Many would have made a tidy sum had this project become a reality. The NGT has asked for fresh impact assessment studies, public hearings for local people, etc. The earlier assessment report hid the fact that the project planned in Zemingthang is also the wintering habitat of the black-necked crane, a bird considered sacred by the Monpas. We connect it with the sixth Dalai Lama who was from Tawang. He wrote poems on the bird. Apart from local sentiments, the bird has been labeled endangered by law. The Bombay Natural History Society selected Zemingthang as an important bird area for this reason. After the NGT verdict, those with vested interest are suddenly afraid of us because we have also been supporting the villagers in recording their objections to the other hydel projects in the district. Apart from stating environment and religious reasons, the SMRF has also been raising the futility of these mini and micro dams in solving the power supply problem of the district. While work on 13 hydel projects in Tawang is currently going on, the government has planned a total of 28 mini and micro dams in the district. Even though the power requirement of the district is 6.5 megawatts, if all these mini and micro projects produce electricity as shown on paper, it would be more than 20 megawatts. However, even after many of these projects have been declared completed, they have failed to produce electricity, so much so that there are long hours of power cut even in sub-zero temperatures in Tawang. So it is clear to the local people now that while somebody powerful is making money on these projects, they have not only been unable to provide electricity but are also degrading the environment they live in.’ (81)

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An article by Claude Arpi investigates the political and financial undercurrents: ‘‘Was it a coincidence that ten out of eleven of these assembly seats were located in Arunachal West parliamentary constituency? When one knows that the State is still claimed by China, this created quite an extraordinary situation, a deeply worrying one.  At that time, two words were whispered in the social media circles: ‘Dam Money’. This came back to mind when early last month, two people, including a Buddhist monk, were killed after the police opened fire in Tawang district of Arunachal. Officially, the police fired at some anti-dam activists trying to barge into a police station demanding the release of a monk who had spearheaded the anti-dam campaign. A few days later, Chief Minister Kalikho Pul rushed to Delhi to meet Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to tell him that the situation had returned to normal after a peace committee was formed.
Very few believed him.
A few weeks before the tragedy, Kalikho Pul had been making a case for fast-tracking environmental clearances for hydropower projects. He had spoken at the conference ‘Hydro power at crossroads – tapping the untapped’, organized by Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM), stating that hydropower would be developed in an optimal manner with the environmental impact and human displacement would be reduced to the absolute minimal. He said that the 156 dams being planned would generate over 50,000 mega watts of power; he however admitted that “almost all projects are still in the planning stages and most are awaiting environmental clearances.” While environmentalists and local communities argued that these dams would damage the environment, Pul affirmed that hydropower is “the only viable source for the resource strapped state which could provide sustainable means of livelihood.”
Many believe that it would only create ‘sustainable means of livelihood’ for the politicians …to be elected unopposed during the next elections.

The killing of the two persons forced the government to reconsider some of its policies; the first to pay the bill were the Tawang district’s Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police who “failed to assess the situation.” They were suspended, along with the officer in-charge of Tawang police station.They were made scapegoats. (71)

An article ‘Beneath the fissures’ by Jarpum Gamlim goes into some detail about the complicated series of theories and accusations surrounding these deaths. He explains the importance of the position of the Abbot in the politics of the region. ‘To better understand this, one must first be familiar with the characters who have locked horns in a power play within and outside the second-oldest Mahayana Buddhist monastery, the Gaden Namgyal Lhatsen or Tawang monastery, as it is popularly known. The seat of the ‘abbot of Gaden Namgyal Lhatsen’ is highly revered. The life of the Monpas, the most populous tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, is delicately interwoven with religion, with the abbot exerting a pervasive influence on their socio-cultural life and, hence, a political influence too. (66)

The geographical  position of Tawang means the unrest has wider implications: ‘Unrest in a border area, especially one where its control is disputed by China, is hardly in India’s interest. Protests there could provide China with a useful handle to stoke anti-India sentiment that would serve to weaken India’s hold over this strategic territory.’ (79)

This makes it imperative for India to ensure that anger and alienation from the Indian state do not deepen in this crucial border state. The Buddhist Monpa people have been fiercely pro-India and Tawang has been peaceful for decades.

The Dalai Lama has played an interesting role in this situation. The Abbot was appointed by him and represents his views and wishes. Throughout the controversy the Dalai Lama has been notably quiet on the issue of the serious environmental threat posed by the hydropower projects. This is despite the fact the Dalai Lama, and organisations associated with him, like to promote his image as an environmental protector. His website holds evidence of speeches on the importance of the environment before political gain: ‘Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threaten by human activities which lack a commitment to humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and nature resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth’s living things.’ (72) The Dalai Lama pushed forward the environmental threats posed to Tibet by some of China’s projects: ‘The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader told Timothy Roemer, the US ambassador to India, that the “political agenda should be sidelined for five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change on the Tibetan plateau” during a meeting in Delhi last August. “Melting glaciers, deforestation and increasingly polluted water from mining projects were problems that ‘cannot wait’, but the Tibetans could wait five to 10 years for a political solution,” he was reported as saying… In their meeting, the ambassador reported, the Dalai Lama criticised China’s energy policy, saying dam construction in Tibet had displaced thousands of people and left temples and monasteries underwater.’  (73)

In the case of the hydropower projects in the Mon-Tawang region, where the Dalai Lama has considerable influence through the monastery, he has been silent, and his representative has been accused of telling monks to stay away from the demonstrations. (78) His response to the Abbot’s resignation caused considerable surprise to many, in a letter in response to the resignation the Dalai Lama stayed silent on the issue of the projects and announced he would not be appointing a replacement for the Abbot. ‘This is the first time since the Tawang Monastery was built in the 17th Century that the chief or abbot will not be appointed by a Dalai Lama, sources privy to the latest development said.  “Although Tawang is a Indian monastery and the second largest in the world, the abbot is always appointed by a Dalai Lama, the supreme Tibetan spiritual guru,” sources said. The Dalai Lama, in a letter accessed by the Express, said he had appointed a qualified person (Guru Rinpoche) and added that if some people were not happy, they should not appoint the new chief. “I have appointed several abbots to the Tawang Monastery. The present abbot, Guru Rinpoche, at a very young age studied at the institute of Buddhist dialectics, Dharamshala. After that, he worked and served in my office.” “I have selected a well qualified person as the abbot of Tawang Monastery. Yet, if there are people who are not satisfied with the Abbot’s activities, then I shall no longer appoint an abbot to Tawang Monastery. Instead, the abbot will be directly appointed by the Sera Je Monastery,” the current Dalai Lama said.’ (74)

Guru Rinpoche was clearly favoured by the Dalai Lama as he ‘has been in office since June 2008; “An abbot is generally supposed to be in there for only three years,”’ (68) It is a highly unusual decision not to appoint a successor, the monastery is the centre of a great deal of power in that area: ‘For centuries monks from the Gelugpa (“Yellow Hat”) sect of Buddhism dominant in Tibet and Mongolia presided over Tawang, levying taxes and ruling over the nearby villages. Their monastery is India’s largest and one of the most important outside Tibet. Its influence is the stronger for the late arrival of a modern government. Imperial Britain placed Tawang inside India’s borders only in 1914, at a conference in Simla (today, Shimla).’ (75) The Dalai Lama will maintain the control of the monastery; ‘he will indirectly control it through the Sera Je Monastery based in Mysuru, Karnataka.’ (76) If the Dalai Lama had appointed another Abbot who appeared to be supporting the hydropower projects it would have become obvious that he was putting politics before the environment. By avoiding any debate over who would be a suitable successor the Dalai Lama avoided publicly declaring his own interest in the situation. By not allowing anyone to appoint an Abbot that may have been against the hydropower project, he has ensured that the cause of those protesting against ecologically destructive hydropower projects has not been strengthened in any way.

The Dalai Lama in speeches urges us to ‘be concerned for our whole environment. As a basic principle, I think it is better to help if you can, and if you cannot help, at least try not to do harm. This is an especially suitable guide when there is so much yet to understand about the complex interrelations of diverse and unique eco-systems. The earth is our home and our mother. We need to respect and take care of her. This is easy to understand today.’ (77) It must therefore be a great disappointment to those who are against the projects; for environmental reasons that he does not appear to be supporting their cause. Why didn’t the Dalai Lama himself speak out against the projects; ‘It is the mega projects that threaten submerging vast areas, cutting thousands of trees and greatly impacting the ecological balance in the area that they are protesting against. Another reason why the idea of mega dams has been criticised by experts is because the state of all districts of the state of Arunachal Pradesh lie in Zone V of the seismic zone. No wonder then, that the sixth-largest earthquake in the history of the world occurred in Arunachal Pradesh on August 15 1950.’ (78)

He shows concern for the extinction of species of animals and yet has not spoken out against the project that ‘is a threat to the wintering habitat of the Black-necked crane, an endangered bird considered sacred by the Buddhist Monpa community. The bird is considered an embodiment of the 6th Dalai Lama who was from Tawang and wrote about the bird in his poetry.’ (78) Again the question needs to be asked why is the Dalai Lama silent when a whole species, one of great importance in the Buddhist community, could become extinct if the plans go ahead?

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In July ‘Hundreds of lamas along with local Buddhist residents on Friday marched through the streets of Tawang, the home district of newly elected chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu, in protest against non-fulfillment of their demand for jobs to kith and kins of two anti-dam activists killed in police firing on May 2…On June 21 the Lamas-led Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF) had issued six-point charter of demand to the state government for fulfillment in 30 days. Apart from jobs to the family members of deceased activists, the demands also included CBI probe into the killing of two activists during a protest in Tawang on May2, allotment of land for construction a memorial in the name of two deceased protestors and making public the inquiry report into the firing incidents. (80)

Chösi nyiden – Religion and Politics in One

‘On the whole, Buddhism, with its basis in egalitarianism, rationality, tolerance, and spirit of enquiry, may seem admirably suited to the temper of democracy, but the Tibetan version of it with its many magical elements, its political ideology of Choe-sig ni-den or “Religion and Politics in One”, and its insistence on unquestioning obedience to the guru figure, certainly is not.’ (23)

It is clear that whilst promoting themselves as a democratic government the Dalai Lama and CTA are clearly acting as a Theocratic dictatorship. Tibetan politics can best be described as a union of religious and secular power, known as chösi nyiden. The 5th Dalai Lama introduced the merging of religion and politics to Tibet, when both clerics and aristocratic layman were given responsibilities in the administration. In practical terms it is impossible to divide the political and religious aspects of the CTA’s actions and agenda. Both monk and lay Tibetans work together without an explicit division based on a religious or political role. ‘All exile Tibetan national ceremonies are created to support the close link between Tibetan secular affairs and religious symbolism…. Both the 10 March Commemoration and the ‘monlam chenmo’ instructions are examples of this. Christiaan Klieger points out the important role of the Dalai Lama in both ceremonies: ‘the nation and the religion. The unifying symbol bridging both events is the Dalai Lama, the king and the god.’ (3) It is also exemplified in the continued use of divination and oracles when making political decisions. At the heart of the relationship between religion and politics is that the succession of Tibetan leadership relies upon Tulku reincarnation. The Dalai Lama is regarded as being the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion (Indian Avalokiteshvara, or Tibetan Chenrezig.) According to Tibetan mythology Chenrezig is the founding father of all Tibetan people, so the Dalai Lama is also seen to be the reincarnation of the first Tibetan King.

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The Absolute Power of Dalai Lama and CTA

The Dalai Lama’s power, and by association therefore, the power of the Central Tibetan Association (CTA), is absolute within the exile Tibetan community: ‘Whatever he says will not be criticized by anyone—a tradition that has become ingrained for all Tibetans since the institution came into existence.’ (3) This absolute power has come about as a result of the following combination of influences:
1. ‘In a system of ‘rule by incarnation’ the suzerain (head of state) was in a position that was never questioned and all decisions he made were never criticized. His decisions, both in religious and political matters, are assumed to be, without any doubt, in the name of all people’s interest and every criticism that challenges his political authority is interpreted as anti-religious.’ (4)
2. One of the crucial attributes for the institution of the Dalai Lama is charisma. Charisma is described as ‘a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities’ (5) It is true to say that the Dalai Lama has extremely high levels of charisma, but this is only in part due to his own personal qualities. A great deal of his perceived charisma has been created by his association with the perception that he is a reincarnated Buddha, his Hollywood persona as portrayed in films such as ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ and ‘Kundun,’ and his role as David heroically opposing the Goliath strength of China.
 3. His alleged reincarnation as Chenrezig substantiates the claim that he is the head of all Tibetans, not just those within the exile community.’ According to Tibetan mythology, Chenrezig is the founding father of the Tibetan people. Embodied as a monkey he coupled with an ogress who gave birth to the first six Tibetans, from whom sprang all Tibetan ethnic groups. Hence all Tibetans have a sacred link to the Dalai Lama, which underscores the unity among all Tibetans and the strong convictions in the power of the institution in ruling over the whole of ethnic Tibetan territory.’ (3)

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Chenrezig Institute, Eudlo, Queensland, Australia, June 2011.

However in this television interview the Dalai Lama himself clearly explains that he is NOT the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lamas and is therefore not Chenrezig. (At 14 minutes)

 4.’The majority of Tibetans have received at least once in their lifetime, teachings and blessings of the Dalai Lama and have him as a root guru. They owe him respect in terms of a disciple–teacher relation, which makes criticism in the Tibetan context even more difficult.’ (7)
5. In Tibetan cultural context, there is a deep respect towards elders, where the judging of an ancestor is unacceptable. To do so would risk a person’s national affiliation because the person would be setting himself above the head Lama.
6. ‘The interrelation of democracy and Buddhist philosophy supports, in my eyes, the superiority of the Dalai Lama within the governmental structures, i.e. his political position is even more emphasized by its religious meaning.’(3)

For all of these reasons the Dalai Lama has, up until now, been in an almost invulnerable position of absolute power over the exile community. The influence of the Dalai Lama’s position on the political choices of Tibetans is illustrated by the results of a poll taken in Tibet in 2008: ‘Then, exile government circulated the result of opinions secretly collected inside Tibet. Out of 17,393 people, 8,246 said they would follow whatever His Holiness says, while 5,209 voted for Independence, and 2,950 supported the Middle Path.’ (25)  If the results of this poll are to be believed it is highly significant that nearly half of the Tibetans were prepared to do comply with the Dalai Lama’s wishes over a topic as emotive as Tibetan independence from China. It would be difficult to say whether this obedience is based on blind Faith or fear of the consequences of being branded ‘anti the Dalai Lama.’ Because of the Dalai Lama’s influence over the CTA any criticism towards this institution is seen as a questioning of the institution and power of the Dalai Lama himself; by association this is for Tibetans the equivalent of criticising a Buddha, the father of the Tibetan nation, a root guru, an elder, a monk and the potential ‘saviour’ of Tibetan independence. In actuality such criticism happens rarely and in fact the Tibetans blindly rely on the Dalai Lama’s decisions and consequently the decisions of the CTA.

Myth of the Dalai Lama’s retirement
In March 2011 the Dalai Lama announced he was devolving his political power to an elected figure because he felt this would be of long-term benefit to Tibetans. This move is undoubtedly to ensure that the CTA are established as the political leaders before the Dalai Lama’s death, to prevent the PRC devolving power to a Dalai Lama of their choosing. It is also to reinforce the image of the exile community as being democratic, as a contrast to the Chinese system of governance.   In effect this announcement has had little or no effect on the exiled Tibetans’ conception of the Dalai Lama as their supreme leader. This is in no small part due to the messages sent out on official websites: He is still described in the Charter of Tibetans in Exile, currently on the CTA website as, ‘ the guide illuminating the path, the supreme leader, the symbol of the Tibetan identity and unity and the voice of the whole Tibetan people.’ (16) Or the decidedly mixed message on another official website, ‘There is no serious dispute about the fact that the people of Tibet will continue to regard the Central Tibetan Administration as their true authority as long as the leadership of the Central Tibetan Administration has the blessing and full backing of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – irrespective of the recent changes.’ (17) In practical terms the full range of official political duties and powers of the Dalai Lama were laid out in a parliamentary amendment to the Charter (22): ‘His Holiness’ duties will be to provide advice and encouragement with respect to the protection and promotion of the physical, spiritual, ethical and cultural wellbeing of the Tibetan people, to remain engaged in the efforts to reach a satisfactory solution to the question of Tibet and to accomplish the cherished goals of the Tibetan people. He will provide suggestions in various forms to the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies and Kashag in matters of importance to the Tibetan people, including the community and its institutions in exile, at his own initiative or at the request of those bodies. He will meet with world leaders and other important individuals and bodies to speak on behalf of the Tibetan people, to explain and discuss their concerns and needs as well as to designate representatives and special envoys appointed by the cabinet to serve the interests of the Tibetan people in any part of the world.’ So on the surface the CTA want it to appear that ‘The powers vested with His Holiness the Dalai Lama as head of the executive under Article 19 have been delegated to the Kalon Tripa,’ but in reality he has officially retained full involvement with all matters pertaining to the exile community. This is confirmed by the Kalon Tripa’s remarks as he ended the parliamentary session; ‘He reiterated the Kashag’s responsibility to duly carry out the aspirations and visions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.’
There are many exile Tibetans who are unwilling to see that the Dalai Lama as anything other than their supreme leader. The depth of feeling towards the Dalai Lama as supreme leader is conveyed in the following appeal to the Dalai Lama from the redrafting committee for the Tibetan constitution, who resisted the 14th Dalai Lama’s appeal and instead asked him to remain in his position of power: ‘Your Holiness is the eye and heart of the Tibetan people. Your Holiness is the soul of the Tibetan nation and its spiritual and temporal polity. The Tibetan people, both in and outside Tibet, look to your Holiness with absolute reverence and hope. No leader of a democracy enjoys as much trust from people as Your Holiness does.’ (18) This loyalty makes it impossible for many Tibetans to consider any political power separate from the Dalai Lama so his announcement is in effect only paying lip service to democracy.

There are also many Tibetans in the Exile community who would welcome the Dalai Lama’s complete retirement from politics but they are reluctant to express that wish publicly for fear of being scapegoated as many are who voice opinions seen to be criticising the Dalai Lama: Lhasang Tsering said in that context: ‘Our greatest strength is the Dalai Lama, but I think he is also our greatest weakness … We Tibetans depend entirely on the Dalai Lama’. In this regard, one can see that the position of the Dalai Lama within the Tibetan community is two-edged. On the one hand, his charismatic personality, and the history and tradition of this institution serve for Tibetans as proof of his superior position in religion and politics. On the other hand, his dominance and strong ties to the CTA hinder the democratic progress. The interrelation of democracy and Buddhist philosophy supports, in my eyes, the superiority of the Dalai Lama within the governmental structures, i.e. his political position is even more emphasized by its religious meaning.'(3) Mila Rangzen feels that in reality the CTA still has no real power, unless their actions are in complete accordance with the Dalai Lama’s wishes; ‘Like the retired President Bush, he should stay away from politics. Have you ever wondered if the Sikyong can ask for a review of the current approach, constitutionally he can but can he in practice? If he does, he won’t survive as Sikyong for more than a week. Pressure can come from any quarters and that is absolutely fine as long as it is democratic. The problem is when it comes from institutions like the Dalai Lama that has claimed to have retired politically.’ (19)

Religion, politics and Dorje Shugden Practice

In 2003 the BBC News Magasine published an article asking, ‘Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?’ (2) The article analyses the hate speech and physical violence directed towards Muslims by Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka and Burma. The article could just as easily be analysing the hate speech and acts of violence directed towards Shugden Buddhists by the Dalai Lama’s Buddhist followers.

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Dalai Lama followers have to be restrained by a wall of police to prevent them physically attacking people peacefully protesting against the Dalai Lama’s ban on Shugden practice.

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Some examples of online hate speech directed towards Shugden practitioners by Dalai Lama followers, these include death threats and threats of rape.

The BBC article explains how religious groups and political leaders can use each other as platforms to gain more power and control: ‘however any religion starts out, sooner or later it enters into a Faustian pact with state power. Buddhist monks looked to kings, the ultimate wielders of violence, for the support, patronage and order that only they could provide. Kings looked to monks to provide the popular legitimacy that only such a high moral vision can confer. The result can seem ironic. If you have a strong sense of the overriding moral superiority of your worldview, then the need to protect and advance it can seem the most important duty of all. Christian crusaders, Islamist militants, or the leaders of “freedom-loving nations”, all justify what they see as necessary violence in the name of a higher good. Buddhist rulers and monks have been no exception.’ The article goes on to describe some bloody and violent events in Buddhist.

In his book, “The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China,” Prof. Dr. Peter Schwieger, the Tibetologist from the Institute for Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of Bonn, investigates the historical background of the development of the Dalai Lama’s power. Using ancient documents as his sources he is able to describe how the union of Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese politics led a theocratic state in Tibet.

‘To the north of the country, Mongolian tribes competed with each other, and in the east the Manchurian dynasty of the “Qing” (pronounced “ching”) took the Chinese imperial throne in 1644 from the previous dynasty: the legendary Ming dynasty. Mongolian rulers and Chinese emperors tried to extend their power to Tibet as well and drastically intervened again and again in Tibet’s politics and administration. According to Prof. Schwieger, “the long-term objective was the formation of a great inner-Asian empire.” In Tibet the Dalai Lamas were initially only one factor among many – they led the Buddhist school of the “Gelukpa” (yellow hats). Only after complicated struggles, “the line of the Dalai Lamas gained power in Tibet” said Prof. Schwieger – first in the 17th century with the help of Mongolian support and then in the 18th century by the intervention of the Qing emperor. A close relationship developed between the religious and political elite of Tibet and the Chinese imperial court, and both sides knew how to benefit from it. The elite of Tibet needed military support for their power, and in return the Chinese imperial court needed spiritual justification of their military predominance in inner-Asia. The rulers on the dragon throne achieved stability on the western edge of their empire, and the “yellow hats” were able to unite spiritual and internal political control under one roof – in the Potala fortress in Lhasa in the person of the Dalai Lama. A type of “Buddhist theocracy” resulted – although there is no concept of God in Buddhism. “Max Weber called it a hierocracy,” said Prof. Schwieger – “a rule of the holy.”‘

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The theocratic nature of the Dalai Lama’s rule enabled him to exert his considerable power and influence against the Shugden practitioners in the exile community and Tibet, leading to their present segregation.

Jamyang Norbu,  a Tibetan political activist and writer, currently living in the United States (9) has been aware of the growing underlying tension between the two Tibetan Buddhist groups and as far back as 2013 warned of the escalating threat of violence in this situation; ‘ I was told that Dharamshala officials were now going around  Tibetan communities making people sign pledges that they would completely ostracize Shugden devotees, not share a meal with them or have anything to do with them in any way. I was told to watch an Al Jazeera documentary (10) on the issue, which was very troubling.

I was also told that notices had been issued stating that it was okay to inflict violence on Shugden devotees. I was shocked. I had not known that matters had gotten so out of hand. All concerned Tibetans need to come together to deal with this issue through rational inquiry and calm discussion before, one fine day, we start murdering each other, like the Sunnis and Shias in Iraq or Pakistan, or Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.’

Clearly Jamyang Norbu also feels that it could be the ‘Shangri-La’ myth of Tibetans being inherently non-violent that is clouding people’s judgement on this matter; ‘If anyone is under any illusion that Buddhists are inherently nonviolent just look back at the way Buddhist monks were instigating the killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and more recently the killing of Muslims in Burma.’

The threat of violence against Shugden practitioners was overt before the international protests against the ban started. This documentary shows newspaper articles calling for violence against Shugden practitioners posted by officials within the exile community; clearly the Dalai Lama was aware of this hate speech but even when presented with the black and white evidence by the journalists denies this as ‘rumours.’

Once the international protests against the ban on Shugden practice began the media interest in the controversy has increased and the overt calls to violence ceased. However many would say that publishing the list of Tibetans who were present at the international protests, with their names and location, on the CTA’s official website, is nothing more than a covert encouragement of violence and persecution against the protestors.

In the BBC article the journalist describes how one single unexpected incident can easily lead to tensions and hatred quickly exploding into mob acts of violence, ‘On Tuesday, Buddhist mobs attacked mosques and burned more than 70 homes in Oakkan, north of Rangoon, after a Muslim girl on a bicycle collided with a monk. One person died and nine were injured.’ The international community needs to be paying more attention to the clear evidence being presented by Shugden practitioners, of hate speech, threats and actual physical harm caused by the Dalai Lama’s followers following his ban on Shugden practice, which is enforced through CTA legislation and the Shugden scapegoat strategy. (See Part Four -Shugden Scapegoat)

In her book, ‘The Tibetan Independence Movement: Political, Religious and Gandhian,’ described as ‘the first serious analysis of the Tibetan independence movement,’ Jane Ardley analyses how the Dalai Lama used his religious and political position to enable his acts of discrimination against Shugden practitioners in the exile community. “A potential cause of division also exists where religious events are politicised…During the 1990s a dispute emerged within the Tibetan exile community that perfectly illustrates why Tibetan politics must become fully secularised. A long standing issue in the Tibetan community has been the worshipping of the deity Dorje Shugden, considered to be the spirit of a 17th century monk, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, who protects the Gelug sect and its members, particularly from the influence of the Nyingma sect. Worship of this figure is especially popular in Eastern Tibet, and the present Dalai Lama prayed to Dorje Shugden for many years. However in 1976 the Dalai Lama announced he was advising against this practice, twenty years later in 1996, the Dalai Lama went further and announced that members of both government departments and monasteries under the control of the Tibetan exile administration were forbidden from worshipping the spirit. The Dalai Lama, as political leader of the Tibetans, was at fault for forbidding his officials from partaking in a particular religious practice, however undesirable (to him).

The whole Dorje Shugden affair was an illustration of the complexities of the relationships, both religious and political, between the sects in the Buddhist Tibetan tradition. The Dorje Shugden affair was an example of an issue that should have stayed completely in the religious arena and should not have been politicised at all. The Dalai Lama used his political authority to deal with what was and should have remained a purely religious issue. A secular Tibetan state would have guarded against this.” (11)

In governments with Fascist tendencies the close links between state and religion can easily be manipulated, with people’s religious beliefs becoming another strategy to gain absolute power and authority. Evidence of how the CTA abuse the relationship of politics and religion in dealing with Shugden practitioners is apparent on the Kashag statement. (12) The statement infers that the Dalai Lama represents the ‘predominant religion’ of Tibet, whereas Dorje Shugden is portrayed as being harmful to Tibetans: ‘Dorje Shugden conflicts with Tibet’s two protector deities;’ ‘This has impaired the sacred relationship between the people of Tibet and their protector deities;’ ‘this is not a matter of what is in the Dalai Lama’s interest, but what is in the interest of the Tibetan nation and it’s religion.’ In actual fact the Dalai Lama does not have authority over the four religious schools of Tibet, only his own, and there are hundreds of thousands of Tibetans who have Dorje Shugden as their protector deity. Here the Dalai Lama’s spiritual role is being exaggerated and Tibetans’ religious beliefs are clearly being used as a tool to manipulate public opinion.

The reason for the manipulation of Tibetans’ religious beliefs and the ban on Shugden practice in the Exile Tibetan community is political and not religious. The Dalai Lama wishes to strengthen his own position by establishing himself as the supreme head of all the Tibetan schools of Buddhism. It is obvious that the Central Tibetan Authority are going to do everything in their power, even if this means goes against their own and the Indian constitution, to support the Dalai Lama’s claim for supremacy over the Buddhist schools, as their own status and power will also be raised up if he achieves this.

‘The Dalai Lama himself is technically the leader of the Gelugpas, so in theory he cannot presume to speak for the Nyingmapas, Kagyupas and Sakyapas. It is only his own personal stature that has allowed him to speak for all Tibetans internationally… But Dorje Shugden appears to stand in the way. Shugden is, after all, a deity that the Dalai Lama’s devotees claim as the major protector of the Gelugpa tradition. In this sense Shugden is seen to be favouring the separation of the Gelugpas from the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism.’ (13)

Shugden practitioners do not wish for all the schools to be unified under one central authority, the Dalai Lama. In order to remove their opposition to his supremacy the Dalai Lama and CTA chose to remove the whole tradition from the exile community picture; they have gone about this by creating the Shugden Scapegoat. ( see Article 3 The Shugden Scapegoat) As is common practice in fascist states minority groups of people are made scapegoats in order to marginalise and isolate them within their community, with the ultimate aim, presumably, of eradicating their tradition completely. The attack on the Shugden community came in the form of social isolation backed up with legal measures, leading effectively to a ban on Shugden practice in the Exile Tibetan community. The Dalai Lama and CTA would have been successful in this strategy, as it is impossible for Shugden practitioners in the exile community to offer resistance, due to the religious and political power of those oppressing them. However the international Shugden community have organised international physical and virtual demonstrations against this religious discrimination with the intention of bringing the ban on Shugden practice in the exile community to an end.

Some argue that Shugden practice is still ‘allowed’ in the exile Tibetan community in India, citing the presence of Shugden monasteries in India as their evidence for this: In truth these monasteries house the remaining few Shugden practitioners brave enough to stand up to the relentless discrimination and lack of any form of legal rights; undoubtedly even these monasteries would have collapsed under the pressure caused by the Dalai Lama and CTA’s statements and actions against them, if the international Shugden community had not begun their powerful physical and online campaign.

What is interesting is that by stopping his own Shugden practice, discriminating against Shugden practitioners and forcing them out of their own community, the Dalai Lama has gone against his own religious training. ‘So what made the Dalai Lama, a role model of peace and tolerance, turn against Shugden, considering that by his own admission he used to worship the deity himself? The matter becomes more perplexing when the fact that one of the current Dalai Lama’s gurus, Trijang Rinpoche, was a devotee of Dorje Shugden as well. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, a practitioner’s first loyalty is to the guru. Thus, in denouncing Shugden, the Dalai Lama also severs his allegiance to his guru — an unthinkable act within Tibetan Tantrayana.’ (13) It would seem that overall politics are more important to the Dalai Lama than religion, which would make him more worthy of the title ‘politician’ than ‘spiritual leader.’

The practical steps taken by the exile government against Shugden practitioners are clearly explained in the following paragraph written in the entirely neutral book by Stephanie Romer, ‘The Tibetan Government in Exile’: ‘The 14th Dalai Lama strictly advised his compatriots to stop the practice of Shugdhen on the advice of the state oracle, saying that it would damage the exile Tibetan struggle. The Dalai Lama’s opposition to Shugdhen became louder in 1996 when the CTA prohibited the Shugdhen practice among all CTA officials and the entire monastic population that stood under its supervision. Additionally, the exile Tibetan laity was also called on to change its religious practice, otherwise ‘… it will harm the common interest of Tibet, the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and strengthen the spirits that are against religion.’

The prohibition of Shugden practitioners becoming CTA officials is a clear breach of the constitution of the exile government that supposedly, ‘guarantees to all Tibetans equality before the law and enjoyment of rights and freedom without discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, language and social origin.’ (14) This ban on their employment in the exile government means that Shugden practitioners are unable to receive the following benefits drawn by CTA officials:
1. The earnings represent a permanent and predictable money flow.
2. Entitlement to send children to CTA kindergartens and school without payment.
3. Free Medical attention with priority treatment, with a free yearly general check-up.
4. Opportunity to apply for further training and workshops, in India or abroad that accelerate professional advancement.
5. Exile Tibetan officials have the opportunity to make contact with Western NGOs, researchers and donors which often leads to sporadic or frequent private support from the Westerners.
6. The opportunity to work actively for the freedom of your country.

If the above political and economic sanctions are not punishment enough for continuing the religious practice, this video shows clear evidence of how important political figures, who claim to be working in accordance with the Dalai Lama’s wishes, advocated violence against anyone who continues to follow the Shugden practice. (Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden Part 3 at 1:04)  The President of the Tibetan Regional Council published instructions to act violently against Shugden practitioners in a newspaper; he states, ‘only deities that are recognised by the government can be worshipped, worshipping deities that are not recognised by the government is against the law.’ This is despite the fact that Article 10 of the Charter of the Tibetans in Exiles states:

Article 10 – Religious Freedom 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.

It is understood by everyone that the fundamental principles of Buddhism are kindness and compassion. The ban on Shugden practice is clearly neither compassionate or kind, as the previous and following video clearly illustrate. This establishes then that, as with other Fascist states, the Dalai Lama and CTA use religion for political gain, even though the ‘major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.’  (1)  This is particularly shocking when the person using the religion to his own political ends is the spiritual leader of that religion, whose followers are encouraged to believe is a Buddha.

Religion, politics and Tibetan Independence

In 2013 an article by Tenzing Sonam exposed how the combination of religion and politics has had an extremely negative effect on the campaign for Tibetan independence from China: ‘Despite being among the most successful refugee communities in the world, with a charismatic and a globally renowned leader, and with enormous international goodwill for our cause, we have failed to mobilize the widespread outrage and support that the situation in Tibet demands. A key reason for this appears to be the dogged insistence on the part of our leaders in Dharamshala to stick to a conciliatory political policy that has voluntarily forsaken Tibetan independence as the fundamental source of contention; a policy that has borne no dividends yet constrains us in our criticism of China’s actions in Tibet.’ With the majority of Tibetans passionately wanting Tibet to be free from Chinese rule; so great is their passion that many have chosen self immolation as a deeply shocking protest against Chinese military occupation of Tibet; how could it be that they have ‘failed to mobilize’ this passion?

Sonam explains how for three decades the Tibetan government-in-exile, led by the Dalai Lama, has stuck to the Middle Way Approach. Sonam rightly identifies that there is a conflict for Tibetans between passionately continuing their fight for independence and following the Dalai Lama’s, their spiritual guide’s, Middle Way: ‘Although the majority of Tibetans continued to instinctively believe that rangzen should be our political goal, those who openly expressed this were accused by proponents of the Middle Way Approach of being anti-Dalai Lama, the single-most devastating charge any Tibetan can face. One outcome of this contradiction between what we believed to be our inherent right and the compromise we were being asked to support was that it drained the vitality from our movement and left it adrift without a clear and unifying goal, a state of affairs that persists to this day.

The talks broke down in 2010 and there is no sign that China is interested in reviving them any time soon. It seems that Beijing no longer needs to keep up the pretext of continuing the dialogue. The uprising of 2008 and the ongoing self-immolation protests have only hardened its view that, no matter what the Dalai Lama says and how sincere he is, his very existence is a reminder of Tibet’s sovereignty and a threat to its hold over Tibet. And yet, in exile, the Middle Way Approach has evolved its own peculiar momentum; the more China rebuffs it, the more stubbornly our leadership maintains that it is the only policy it will pursue, sometimes describing it in near spiritual terms as being beneficial not just for Tibet and China, but for all humanity.The Middle Way Approach has been elevated to a kind of sacrosanct dictum that cannot be debated, much less discarded. Certainly, the fact that the Dalai Lama himself believes in it, and has invested so much political capital and time in pursuing it, means that many Tibetans, usually on the basis of their religious devotion, continue to support the policy. But by dogmatically adhering to this approach, the exile government continues to bind itself to the conditions built into the proposal and in doing so, forfeits the possibility of forcefully confronting China’s actions in Tibet. It also traps itself in a doublespeak that ends up sending mixed signals, not only to Beijing and the world but also to its own people, thereby further muddying and weakening the foundations of our long-term struggle.’

Self-Immolation

An excellent article in the Guardian Newspaper, October 2011, by Dibyesh Anand, throws light on how the toxic mix of religion and politics is allowing the violent, self-immolation of Tibetans to continue; despite the Dalai Lama claiming to uphold non-violent Buddhist teachings and being a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. ‘Self-immolation is not nonviolent. It is, in fact, a violence against oneself. Harming one’s own corporeal being is unjustifiable and goes against most interpretations of Buddhism. It certainly goes against the hard work put by the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan religious figures to equate Tibetan Buddhism and identity with nonviolence. Though violence, as much as nonviolence, was always part and parcel of Tibetan history and culture, the 14th Dalai Lama has been singularly successful in associating the Tibet cause with nonviolence. Won’t his lifetime’s work go waste if this novel form of political protest spreads like a wildfire? No community can exercise patience, something that nonviolent resistance demands, in the face of young men killing themselves…. And as the performance of patriotism and loyalty toward the Dalai Lama become associated with immolating oneself to protest against the Chinese rule, more Tibetan lives will be lost in the coming days. How does that benefit the Tibetan cause?… So the exile leadership faces a dilemma and has two options: Should it use the protests to rejuvenate Tibetans and their supporters all over the world, even if it means indirectly encouraging the attractiveness of this heroic sacrifice for the already-suffering young Tibetans inside China? Or should it highlight the continuing oppression of Tibetans inside China but at the same time discourage self-immolation by publicly calling for, and privately working for, the Tibetans in the affected region to treasure their lives for the survival of the nation?

Tibetans-display-portrait-007The new political leadership under Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the government in exile, has so far been to go for the first option. But it needs to address the disjuncture between the commitment to the middle way of the Dalai Lama (which entails genuine autonomy for the Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China and struggle to seek that through nonviolent means) and the actual reality of a struggle where individual lives are being sacrificed. However, it is the religious leaders in exile who must take the initiative here. It is they who should go for the second option. The Karmapa, the third highest lama in Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, has expressed his discomfort with political suicides. Other individual lamas too have expressed their disquiet. But we are still waiting for the Dalai Lama to make his views known on this. Will he go with the political leadership’s strategy of solidarity with self-immolation or will he adopt a less popular but religiously compatible stance of requesting the Tibetans inside China not to indulge in self-immolation? Of all the people, he knows best that China does not fear the dead or the dying monks. It fears the living ones.’ (21)

Jamyang Norbu expresses his obvious frustration at how fear of being disloyal to the Dalai Lama is influencing Tibetans stand on independence from China in his article, ‘The Matrix in the Middle Way’: ‘The Tibetan leadership and much of its following-in-exile have become mired in a state of chronic delusion created in large part by our prevailing culture of blind faith, sycophancy, corruption, and intellectual indolence…However depressing the situation, many Tibetans have, in recent years, come to realize that the official Middle Way Approach (MWA) policy has been disastrous for the Tibetan political cause, and for the unity and well-being of the exile community. Yet this growing public awareness has had little impact on our political reality, since most of these people have been reluctant to openly express their concerns for fear of offending the Dalai Lama. Even among those Tibetans openly advocating independence from China as the only possible salvation for Tibet, many have shied away from taking the one final step necessary to making their commitment a meaningful one…To put it simply, most people who believe in Tibetan independence still cannot give up the hope that they could somehow, eventually, arrive at some kind of understanding or compromise with the official MWA policy, and more importantly, remain in the good books of the Dharamshala establishment and, of course, His Holiness the Dalai Lama – even while supporting or even advocating a policy completely in contradiction to his wishes.’

Norbu explains how the Dalai Lama despite claiming to be ‘retired’ is clearly still playing a part in stifling the Rangzen movement, indirectly through his position as ‘God-King’, and directly by influencing voting in the recent preliminary elections for Sikyong: ‘The most recent evidence of Dharamshala’s efforts to marginalize and push out all Rangzen advocates from the exile political process has been the widespread demonization of Atsok Lukar Jam, the only Rangzen candidate in the Sikyong elections. The apparantly officially sanctioned efforts to deny him speaking opportunities in the major monasteries in South India and in schools and colleges under the CTA, also point in that direction. Last minute fraudulent rule changes made after the polls had closed in the first round of elections, appear designed to keep out Lukar Jam from the second round of elections, and ensure that no discussion or debate takes place on the issue of Tibetan independence in the forthcoming campaigns. I have gone into detail on this in my previous post and have also mentioned how the Dalai Lama himself and members of his family have made very troubling public statements that could be construed as condemning all Rangzen advocates as anti-Dalai Lama.’

Norbu’s description of a new ‘pledge’ that has to be taken shows sinsiter similarities to the actions taken against Shugden practitioners in the early days of the Ban: ‘It is becoming clearer than ever that the CTA’s on-going exclusionary agenda for Rangzen advocates has taken on a disturbingly authoritarian turn. In Dharamshala staff members of CTA offices are now required to take a pledge of allegiance to the MWA Policy, and by extension, rejection of Rangzen. I have it on good authority that even menial kitchen workers (ma-yok) have been instructed to take this pledge or lose their jobs. It is just a question of time before Rangen advocates are asked to sign such a pledge or be hounded out of Tibet society. Should we also fear for the future of those courageous members of the exile parliament who have on occasion spoken out in defense of SFT and Rangzen activists?’

As explained in Part Four: Shugden Scapegoat, Shugden practitioners in the exile community were forced to take oaths and sign pledges to give up their Dorje Shugden practice or be evicted from monasteries or forced to ‘resign’ from woresignation 2

Based on the evidence of the complete exclusion of Shugden practitioners from the exile community, it would seem that Norbu is right to fear what these recent developments may be leading to.

Norbu believes that this is part of the pattern of the Dalai Lama’s cronies taking advantage of the Dalai Lama’s religious position for political and financial gain (See Part Eight: Corruption and Cronyism): ‘For these leaders and for all their lowlife thuggish followers (like Ngawang Palden and his gang in New York currently trying to terminate the TYC chapter there as a freedom fighting organization) MWA is a meal-ticket to jobs and positions they would otherwise be unable to secure with their own limited ability and education. Through their shrill advocacy of  the Middle Way Approach and cynical condemnation of Rangzen supporters, they are preying on the Dalai Lama’s desperation to prop up a failed policy (and his own political legacy) that in reality has been murdered and laid to rest (countless times) by China’s leaders.’ (24)

The vilification of people like Norbu and others who speak out against the political situation is clearly illustrated here: ‘The drawing and blogpost are a commentary by the author on Tibetan society and its relationship with Tibetan intellectuals. In the drawing, Tibetan intellectuals past and present are represented are standing in a line, holding their names up on signs: Lungshar, Gendun Choephel, Rangdrol (Tibetan poet Dhondup Gyal’s pen name), Jamyang Norbu (US based), Shogdung, Jamyang Kyi and a general “youth” figure. Below them are a rabble, pointing fingers and calling them names. The author’s opinion is that Tibetan society lacks space for new ideas or new ways of thinking. Instead, intellectuals are subjected to personal attack.’ (25)

Capture

mob

The drawing is part of an article entitled, ‘ Slave to tradition and my words.’ This concept of Tibetans still being slaves and serfs to their dictatorial masters,  as their predecessors were, is a theme used in a moving poem posted as a comment on Norbu’s article. (24)

poem

Myth of Democracy in the Tibetan Exile Community
The Dalai Lama and CTA have been working hard to try and convince the world that they are not a theocratic dictatorship but claim they are operating as a democracy. It is very important for them to try and create this impression for two reasons; they will attract more foreign aid from Westerners if they appear to operate as a democracy and ‘it will resonate inside Tibet, if Tibetans there see him as having kept his word about letting the people vote for their leaders, whereas the Chinese government and the party have talked about this but not done it.’(15) Examination of the system of governance in the exile community quickly reveals that there is no such democracy in place. Richard de Jongh commented that ‘the Lama’s power elite misuses the word democracy because it still dominates exile Tibetan politics through ‘democratic’ manipulation to perpetuate the existing patrimonial structures. The introduced reforms touch only the surface of Tibetan society but do not change the traditional system.’ In truth there is nothing democratic about this model, there are elections but there is only one party standing under the overall leadership of a non-elected Dalai Lama.

It seems that whilst the international community pledge money and verbal support to the Tibetan cause but do little to actively support the struggle for democracy hampered by the archaic system of theocratic dictatorship.

References:

  1. http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm
  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22356306
  1. ‘The Tibetan Government in Exile’ Stephanie Romer
  1. Turrell V Wylie
  1. Weber, Maximillan. ‘Theory of Social and Economic Organization’, Chapter: “The Nature of Charismatic Authority and its Routinization” translated by A. R. Anderson and Talcott Parsons, 1947. Originally published in 1922 in German under the title ‘Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft’, chapter III
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH7cRpm1unk
  3. Mr Tashi Tsering, cited in Dixie 1991
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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamyang_Norbu
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdTnEnBsneM

11.https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=sFqQAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA175&lpg=PA175&dq=religious+intolerance+dalai+lama&source=bl&ots=8YSYDIXMWy&sig=kmzV6e7fuY_DbM4W_V_MpQo2ppg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=BrpsVaj1McalsAHNlICADg&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q=religious%20intolerance%20dalai%20lama&f=false

12 Central Tibetan Administration: Kashag Statement 1996 http://tibet.net/…/kashags-statement-concerning-dolgyal-in…/

13 http://www.siamnews.net/asean/17486-dalai-lama-troubled-over-shugden-worship/

14 Central Tibetan Administration Constitution. http://tibet.net/about-cta/constitution/

  1. https://sites.google.com/site/tibetanpoliticalreview/articles/rethinkingthetibetmovement

16 ‘Dalai Lama gives up political role’, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/world/asia/11tibet.html…

  1. Charter of Tibetans in Exilehttp://tibet.net/about-cta/constitution/
  2. The legitimacy and role of the Central Tibetan Administration.
    http://www.tibetenvoy.eu/content/?p=484
  3. Petition of the Constitution Redrafting Committee cited in Hortsang 2003
  4. http://www.rangzen.net/2014/05/25/cta-on-the-highway-to-autocracy/

21.http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/oct/19/china-tibetans-self-immolation

22. http://tibet.net/2011/05/parliament-amends-charter-on-devolution-of-his-holiness-the-dalai-lamas-formal-authority/

23 http://www.rangzen.net/1990/11/30/opening-of-the-political-eye/

24 http://www.jamyangnorbu.com/blog/2015/12/31/the-matrix-in-the-middle-way/

25 http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=23529

26 http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama/

27 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30983402

28 http://tibettruth.com/2015/01/29/when-the-dalai-lama-spoke-with-a-chinese-government-official/

29 http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/chinese-foundation-plans-3-billion-project-in-nepal/article2233492.ece

30 http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=29818

31 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6TivCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT183&lpg=PT183&dq=Asia+Pacific+Exchange+and+Cooperation+Foundation+dalai+lama&source=bl&ots=-Mt7J7z4iC&sig=SRHqyXJYLniu30B_nxwbFEwvYok&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjF_oz6xfHJAhVHUhQKHcDdBlkQ6AEIQDAF#v=onepage&q=Asia%20Pacific%20Exchange%20and%20Cooperation%20Foundation%20dalai%20lama&f=false

32 http://www.jamyangnorbu.com/blog/2016/02/05/the-real-threat-to-the-dalai-lama/

33 https://www.savetibet.org/bbc-story-on-a-former-chinese-official-and-practicing-buddhist-meeting-the-dalai-lama-in-exile/

34 http://grandmaitreya.com/new/Complex.html

35 http://www.sarr.emory.edu/MAS/MAS_Chap9_MBataa.pdf

36 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6TivCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT231&lpg=PT231&dq=mongolia+china+funding&source=bl&ots=-MtfCbu-fH&sig=dRNCAwxQSHZafuSLpCnI7ray5SI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwir7PL_gMfLAhWJOBoKHQwUD8MQ6AEILDAA#v=onepage&q=mongolia%20china%20funding&f=false

37 http://www.infomongolia.com/ct/ci/7000

38 http://mayaguais.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/mongolias-10-richest-men.html

39 http://www.zazacorporate.com/news-478

40 https://www.rt.com/usa/336131-russia-pentagon-budget-isis/

41 http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2015/03/buddhism-china-and-russia

42 https://nkleadershipwatch.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/mongolia-dprk-sign-economic-agreements/

43 https://fundly.com/grand-maitreya-project-west

44 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6TivCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT231&lpg=PT231&dq=china+has+developed+structural+power+over+mongolia%27s&source=bl&ots=-MtfE9w2hL&sig=Bxlkm9tKY2GIo0rWjaHnbzCu0dk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwizkuyaqMzLAhVBPRoKHT6DAsUQ6AEIKzAC#v=onepage&q=china%20has%20developed%20structural%20power%20over%20mongolia’s&f=false

45 http://www.theasanforum.org/mongolia-hangs-in-the-balance-political-choices-and-economic-realities/

46 http://screenpartner.norisp.no/~mongolia/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/MM-342013.pdf

47 http://www.infomongolia.com/ct/ci/9154

48 http://geographical.co.uk/places/cities/item/1029-smart-city-on-the-mongolian-steppe

49 http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/trends/why-mongolia-considering-0ge8r0m4a8n-p2l0a6n-n8e0w/

50 http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=39093#.Vvv6-OIrLIV

51 http://www.apecf.org/en/foundationnews/20160207.html

52 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya_Project

53 http://rct.doj.ca.gov/Verification/Web/SearchResults.aspx

54 http://landofmedicinebuddha.org/

55 http://claudearpi.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-shadowy-mr-xiao.html

56 http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-07/18/content_12922295.htm

57 http://religiousstudies.ucr.edu/full-time-faculty/matthew-king/

58 https://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/35463

59 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/indias-buddhist-soft-power-diplomacy-sepala-weliwitigoda

60 http://www.maidarcity.com/#

61  https://turnyourbrandon.wordpress.com/category/natural-resource-and-the-commodities-market/

62 https://www.savetibet.org/bbc-story-on-a-former-chinese-official-and-practicing-buddhist-meeting-the-dalai-lama-in-exile/

63 http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/Hush-Tibet-Government-in-Exile-Plays-Footsie-With-China/2016/05/01/article3408894.ece

64 http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/Close-Aide-of-Dalai-Lama-Denies-Chinese-Whispers-in-Monastery-Land/2016/05/01/article3409945.ec

  1. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1160503/jsp/frontpage/story_83524.jsp
  2. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/know/a-closer-look-at-the-agitations-in-tawang/article8621329.ece
  3. http://www.nelive.in/arunachal-pradesh/news/four-killed-police-firing-tawang-police-station-arunachal
  4. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/arunachal-pradesh-dc-sp-suspended-for-failing-to-assess-the-situation-in-tawang-police-firing-2786481/
  5. http://www.arunachaltimes.in/hydro-power-issue-heats-up-in-tawang/
  6. http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2016/05/03/india-anti-dam-activists-killed-in-arunachal-protest/
  7. http://claudearpi.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/the-sorry-state-of-affairs-in-tawang.html
  8. http://www.dalailama.com/messages/environment/an-ethical-approach

73  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/16/wikileaks-dalai-lama-climate-change

74  http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/In-a-first-Dalai-Lama-wont-pick-abbot-of-Tawang-Monastery/2016/05/21/article3444000.ece

75 http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21564878-small-region-may-one-day-thrust-itself-back-headlines

76 http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/An-Abbot-without-the-Dalai-Lama/2016/05/22/article3444829.ece

77  http://www.dalailama.com/news/post/450-dalai-lama-urges-world-to-act-on-climate-change

78 http://twocircles.net/2016may30/1464622094.html#.V45pl_krLIU

79 http://atimes.com/2016/05/india-must-carefully-handle-unrest-over-hydel-projects-in-arunachals-sensitive-tawang-region/

80 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/Tawang-home-district-of-new-Arunachal-CM-erupts-in-protest/articleshow/53338631.cms

81 http://thewire.in/33410/arrested-over-green-tribunals-suspension-of-hydel-project-says-arunachal-anti-dam-activist/

82 http://www.indianlink.com.au/the-injustice-of-development/

83 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dalai-Lamas-Arunachal-visit-will-damage-ties-with-India-China/articleshow/55112857.cms

84 http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/dalai-lamas-arunachal-visit-will-damage-ties-china-warns-india-1585238

85 http://thediplomat.com/2016/12/the-dalai-lama-in-mongolia-tournament-of-shadows-reborn/

86 http://indianexpress.com/article/world/will-never-let-in-dalai-lama-again-mongolia-4438654/

87 http://www.atimes.com/china-mongolia-dalai-lama-india-can-learn/

88 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mongolia-china-idUSKBN14B0N5?il=0

89 http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/chinas-official-media-warns-mongolia-over-seeking-indian-help-1635939

90 http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/dalai-lama-sino-indian-relations-china-rashtrapati-bhawan-4435975/

91 http://grandmaitreya.com/about-the-project/

92 https://vimeo.com/108318410

93 http://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/buddhism/bringing-back-mongolias-rich-history-culture-of-buddhism

94 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/grand-maitreya-project-mongolia_us_57043833e4b0537661880b70

95 http://grandmaitreya.com/about-the-project/

96 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HRJbWU60-jcC&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq=matthew+king+shugden&source=bl&ots=xLwCG0lNqr&sig=NmRnA2s-LeZwsu_RLjuvR3TLSFI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP3YHDoYrRAhWGDxoKHfQfADAQ6AEIITAB#v=onepage&q=matthew%20king%20shugden&f=false

97 https://socialsciences.uchicago.edu/blog/student/telescopic-nationalism-post-socialist-mongolia

98 https://vimeo.com/108318410

99 http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/7800-mongolians-receive-dorje-shugden.html

100 http://dalailama.com/news/post/1202-mongolians-gather-to-hear-a-teaching-of-the-great-stages-of-the-path-to-enlightenment

101 http://www.lamayeshe.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Shugden_book_foreword_0.pdf

102 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4144720/Dalai-Lama-hopes-President-Trump-Putin-work-peace.html

103  http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article130150239.html#storylink=cpy

104 http://www.politico.eu/article/dalai-lama-germany-cannot-become-an-arab-country-refugees-muslims/

105 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/donald-trump-sexism-tracker-every-offensive-comment-in-one-place/

106 http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/11/politics/trump-victory-lgbt-concerns/

107  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-is-actually-a-fascist/2016/12/09/e193a2b6-bd77-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.652d7cab7237

108  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-loosens-sanctions-russia-prevent-intelligence-agencies-cyberspying-hacking-a7559871.html

109 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/japan-germany-donald-trump-trade-war-threats-currency-exploitation-a7557451.html.

110 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/31/indias-great-trump-hope/

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