Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. (1)
- Threats to Tibetan National Security
- Manipulation through Fear
- Manipulation through Fear – Shugden Community
- Manipulation through Fear – Rangzen Community
Threats to Tibetan National Security
The following is a list of real and perceived threats to the national security that engender fear in Tibetans. Threats to the health and wellbeing of the Dalai Lama are seen, by Tibetans, as a threat to national security because he is their spiritual guide and the ‘living symbol’ of a free Tibet.
- Fear that Tibetans will never regain control of their Homeland and they will be forever exiled or oppressed by the Chinese government.
- Fear of harm from the Chinese: Evidence indicates that Tibetans living in Tibet face the high risk of Chinese authorities imposing punishments for non-compliance that include: death, illegal imprisonment, beating and torture. Tibetans in exile fear Chinese spies identifying them as enemies of the Chinese state and inflicting punishment on them through causing harm to their relatives in Tibet.
- Fear that something will happen to the Dalai Lama is historically linked to the fear of not regaining control of the Homeland. For many Tibetans the Dalai Lama is the symbol of their hope that he alone will bring about their return from exile.
- Fear of what happens to Buddhists who show any disagreement or anger towards their spiritual guide. In Tibetan Buddhism it is necessary to maintain a mind of great Faith towards your spiritual Guide, it is believed that lack of Faith can lead to being reborn in the hell realms.
- Fear of what happens to people who do question or disagree with the Dalai Lama and his supporters; the social isolation, verbal abuse, threats and even physical violence against the Shugden practitioners, and some Rangzen supporters, is a clear illustration to all Tibetans of what could happen to them if they choose to speak out against those in authority.
It is obvious from this list that Tibetans face genuine threats to their national security, and continue to need support and protection from the international community. However the purpose of this article is to separate the genuine threat to security from the use of propaganda techniques used by the Dalai Lama, CTA, and supporters that allows them to manipulate the masses through fear. The exile community is influenced by an intricate, tangled web of religion, politics, tradition and culture, each strand connecting with another through belief, longing for an independent homeland and fear. The Dalai Lama and CTA have wrapped and bound the Tibetan community in this web for many decades through; Monastic teachings, political laws, control of media and resources and fascist style propaganda. At the centre of the web is the Dalai Lama himself, he and his cronies taking advantage of his position as spiritual and political leader to enhance their own power and as a means to profit financially. What the West has chosen to see as a protective cocoon for exile Tibetans, kindly provided by the Dalai Lama and his supporters, is actually a gilded cage that traps many exile Tibetans in the mental prison of their fears.
Manipulation through Fear
The manipulation of the Tibetans’ valid fears by the Exile Administration, for political gain, is very apparent in the way the Shugden practitioners and Rangzen supporters are vilified. The use of repetitive themes and ‘evidence’ by all the parties that support the Dalai Lama and CTA suggest this is an orchestrated, international political campaign to scapegoat Shugden practitioners and undermine Rangzen, Tibetan Independence, supporters. Unfortunately, despite the lack of solid evidence, many Tibetans and Westerners are misguided into believing the claims for three reasons:
- They are Dalai Lama followers and believe everything that is presented with his name attached to it has to be true.
- Society’s acceptance of the carefully orchestrated ‘shangri- la’ depiction of Tibet and Tibetans, make any allegations of ‘wrong doing’ by Tibetans hard to accept.
- These claims are repeated by ‘reputable’ organisations, such as the International Campaign for Tibet and Reuters.
Manipulation through Fear – Shugden Community
The vilification and scapegoating of Shugden practitioners is explored in Part 4 –Shugden Scapegoat and Part 5 – Disdain for Human Rights. In this article the focus is primarily on how fear is used as the motivational tool to influence the Tibetan community’s behaviour towards Shugden practitioners. It is important to note how similar language, tactics and ‘evidence’ are used across all the examples given, illustrating that this is an orchestrated, international campaign.
Fear as a tool used in the International Community:
i) International Campaign for Tibet
An example of manipulation through fear can be seen in the response of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) to the demonstrations carried out by the International Shugden Community. (ISC) The Guardian Newspaper, 29 June 2015, described a demonstration organised by the ISC, at a public talk given by the Dalai Lama in Aldershot: ‘the chants and drumming of hundreds of followers of the International Shugden Community , a breakaway sect, could be heard. “Stop lying,” chanted members of the ISC, some who had come from as far as Florida to protest against the Dalai Lama’s visit to Aldershot in Hampshire, which has a large Buddhist population. Shugden members accuse the Dalai Lama of trying to ostracise those who follow the spirit known as Dolgyal or Shugden. ISC supporters have organised noisy demonstrations outside his speaking engagements across North America, Europe and Australia. Aldershot was no exception. A leaflet distributed to people who arrived at the town’s train station criticised the Tibetan spiritual leader. “There is a vast body of well-documented evidence proving that away from the glare of the international media the Dalai Lama is a ruthless and corrupt politician who uses intimidation, humiliation and banishment to suppress those who do not abide by his authoritarian edicts.” said the ISC.’ The article also explains the aims of the demonstration: ‘Nicholas Pitts, an ISC spokesman who lives in Hong Kong, explained a Tibetan government-in-exile decree in 1996 banning the practice of Shugden had laid sowed the seeds for the sectarian rift within the Buddhist community. “Until then he had advised against Shugden, but that was a bombshell,” said Pitts, who accused the Dalai Lama of pursuing a policy of apartheid within the Buddhist community.”’ Pitts makes it clear that the only aim of the demonstration is stop the discrimination against Shugden practitioners ‘“Stop the segregation and the protests would stop,”’ he added.’ (2) These aims are backed up by the statement of intent on the ISC’s website. (3)
In an earlier Guardian article, 4 June 2015, the ISC demonstrations are described again: ‘“There’s lots of placards, banners, caricatures of the Dalai Lama illustrating how he’s suppressing his own people, there’s images of the Buddha he’s trying to ban,” said International Shugden Community spokesman Nicholas Pitts, adding they just wanted a peaceful solution.“We’re not aggressive, we’re not angry, but we’re making a fair amount of noise and we’re hopefully making our voices heard.” Pitts said the Dalai Lama saw the group when he arrived in Leura. “(We) want to make sure that he saw us here and that he knows that we’re aware of what he’s been doing,” Pitts said…. “We want him to enter into a dialogue with us. Hopefully we can find some solution.”’ (4)
There is no doubt that the demonstrations would be unpleasant to Dalai Lama followers, they would find them disrespectful and even distressing; however the following response to the demonstrations by Kate Saunders, of the International Campaign for Tibet, seems hugely out of proportion to the demonstration itself: ‘“The protesters are from an extremist religious group that is aligned with the political agenda of the Chinese government in Tibet to undermine the Dalai Lama and enforce allegiance to the Chinese Communist party,” said Kate Saunders, the communications director for the International Campaign for Tibet. “This systematic campaign against the Dalai Lama and deepening oppression threatens the very survival of Tibetan religion and cultural identity.”’ It is clear from Saunder’s emotive use of language; including ‘extremist,’ ‘undermine,’ ‘enforce allegiance,’ ‘campaign,’ deepening oppression,’ ‘threatens;’ and the introduction of fear triggering topics including; the political agenda of the Chinese, harm to the Dalai Lama and the survival of Tibetan religion and cultural identity; that she is deliberately and cynically manipulating the Tibetans’ fears. It is difficult for anyone to see how some placards, slogans and leafleting, on the side of the road in Aldershot, are a sign of ‘deepening oppression’ that could threaten ‘the very survival of Tibetan religion and cultural identity.’ Unless of course Kate Saunders believes that lack of religious freedom, which is what the demonstrators are protesting against, is a fundamental part of ‘Tibetan religion and cultural identity,’ otherwise how do the demonstrations threaten these?
It would seem that the threat presented by these demonstrations was more reasonably assessed in a UK parliamentary debate on Tibet: ‘the Tory MP said: “During recent visits to other countries people have tried to disrupt his (Dalai Lama) peaceful meetings and conferences, so there is the threat that many of his meetings may have to be abandoned.”’ (5)
Saunders’ emotive language is remarkably similar to the language used in the Reuters’ article published in December 2015. (6) The article claims, ‘“The Chinese are using them as a tool to make the Dalai Lama look fake, to achieve their own ends, to undermine Tibetan Buddhism and to fragment Tibetan society.”’ Interestingly the reporters, and it apparently took three of them to produce the article, admit they have no solid evidence on which to base their claims: ‘Reuters has no independent evidence of direct Chinese financing of the protests.’ The article makes use of references to ‘intelligence agencies’ and ‘security briefing documents,’ to substantiate claims that the demonstrations are causing an actual risk to the Dalai Lama and/or the Tibetan cause. Closer investigation reveals all of this to be smoke and mirrors, with ‘retired,’ or ‘anonymous’ spokespeople and a memo that ‘makes no allegations of a Chinese government role in the security threat.’ Reuters are clearly exploiting the issue of China’s control of Tibet and deliberately using this to raise fears about the demonstrators, what is not clear is what is their motivation for doing this? Further analysis of this article and a refutation of it, by international journalist Korybko, (7) can be found in Part 4- Shugden Scapegoat.
Fear as a tool used in the Exile Community:
i) Central Tibetan Website
The CTA’s website holds many examples of how fear is used to manipulate the exile community against the Shugden practitioners. The political reasons for doing this are explored in Part 4 – Shugden Scapegoat. Perhaps the most shocking example of this is, ‘The list of dolgyal followers who protested against his Holiness the Dalai Lama.’ (8) The list has photographs, names and locations of Tibetans who took part in the ISC demonstrations; the only purpose of such a list is to create the impression that these Tibetans impose some sort of national security risk.
The CTA justify what is a clear breach of the human rights of the demonstrators in the following statement on their website:
‘August 14, 2014
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) recently released a list containing the names with other personal information of Tibetans, who demonstrated during H.H. the Dalai Lama’s last visit to Europe and the USA. The following seeks to address questions as to what led to this action. Essentially, the posting of this information stems from security concerns and to raise awareness within the Tibetan community about members of a group with a history of violence e.g. murder, physical assault and arson. Both Indian and US authorities have recognized that Dolgyal-related groups are a security threat to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For several years now, Dolgyal followers have persistently made baseless allegations against H.H. the Dalai Lama and the CTA. This campaign reached a new level with demonstrations specifically targeting His Holiness during his last visits abroad. The physical proximity of the demonstrators to His Holiness has alarmed the Tibetan community as have slogans such as “False Dalai Lama” and “Dictator”. Hence, the CTA has felt a responsibility to disclose and raise awareness about the demonstrators’ identity.’ (9) So in the process of justifying their published list the CTA provide more unsubstantiated ‘evidence’ of why Shugden practitioners should be feared . The reference to ‘members of a group with a history of violence e.g. murder, physical assault and arson’ is one of the recurring themes used in the orchestrated campaign. It is true that there are examples of violence, murders and arson in the exile community and some of these crimes have been allegedly carried out by Tibetan Shugden practitioners. To suggest that all Shugden practitioners are therefore murderers, arsonists and violent and deserve to have their names and photographs published, on what amounts to an official hit-list, is unacceptable. The list has been on the website for several years and yet the international community, who financially support this administration, have failed to have it removed, despite the fact it is clearly breaking international human rights laws.
In Statements on their official websites the CTA states, seemingly as facts, that Dorje Shugden, and those that regard him as their Dharma protector, are a direct threat to the campaign for Tibetan independence and the life of the Dalai Lama. They state that Tibetans have not been able to ‘achieve the ultimate triumph,’ i.e. Tibetan independence, because of ‘obstructive factors of various kinds…form and formless.’ The statement goes on to say that the Dalai Lama has investigated these obstructive forces and found that it is the spirit of Dorje Shugden that harms ‘the cause of Tibet.’ He is quoted as saying, “Recently I have conducted a number of prayers for the well being of our nation and religion. It has become fairly clear that Dolgyal is a spirit of the dark forces” The statement goes on to say, ‘In their unsubstantiated view those that propitiate Dorje Shugden are choosing to undermine the Tibetan fight for independence,’ and this practice is, ‘one of the greatest dangers to the cause of Tibet.’ (10)
There are many other references to the threat from Shugden practitioners across all CTA and Tibet House official websites but the 2012 ‘Kashag’s statement on the Security of his Holiness the Dalai Lama,’ is one of the best for illustrating the full range of manipulative, fear evoking tactics used in this campaign: ‘His Holiness’s efforts to reform and democratise Tibetan society have also emboldened certain fundamentalists within the Tibetan community. This relates to differences arising from the worship of the Shugden spirit, which His Holiness had advised the Tibetan people from worshipping against. The primary group among these fundamentalists is the Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society (DSDCRS), founded in May 1996 with its headquarters in Delhi, India. The supporters of DSDCRS are perhaps the most violent group. The Indian police have identified and charged DSDCRS of murdering three monks close to His Holiness, including his Chinese translator. This triple murder occurred in Dharamsala, India, very close to His Holiness’s personal residence in February 1997. A Red Corner Notice was issued by Interpol in June 2007 for the arrest of two of the accused in this case. Various reports also point to the fact that the Chinese government is also covertly backing the Shugden fundamentalist groups. The leaders of an association called “North America Gelug Association”, which was established in March 2011 in United States, met Chinese officials in New York several times and have also visited China on a regular basis.The Central Tibetan Administration is grateful to Government of India for the efficient security arrangements provided to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Central Tibetan Administration cautions all concerned to remain vigilant and alert in this regard.’ (11) This is all designed to raise fears against the Shugden practitioners. With regard to the murders the CTA fail to include the fact the Indian police were never able to prosecute the Shugden practitioners accused and others link the same murders to a motive of robbery. It may be the case that the Northern Gelug Association met with the Chinese, but the truth is many of the Dalai Lama’s followers, the Dalai Lama himself and also other Buddhist groups meet regularly with Chinese representatives, these meeting are not portrayed as a ‘threat’ to security, instead they are portrayed as examples of good relationship building, as explained in Part 4 – Shugden Scapegoat.
ii) Penpa Tsering’s manifesto for election
Penpa Tsering is one of two Sikyong candidates left in the running for the March 2016 Sikyong elections. (See Part 7 –Fraudulent Elections) Part of his election manifesto, titled ‘Security,’ is a blatant piece of scapegoat propaganda against the Shugden community. He includes all of the strategies used in the orchestrated campaign; threats to stability of Tibetan society, the Dalai Lama’s health, references to intelligence agencies, murders and of course collusion with China. He, like the official CTA website, uses the term Dolgyal, which is a derogatory term in itself for Shugden practitioners.
‘6) Security: The biggest problem to order and stability in the Tibetan society in exile today comes from followers of Dolgyal. Moreover the biggest threat to the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also posed by the foot soldiers of the Dolgyal group. This is a fact recognized by the intelligence agencies in both India and the USA. The foot soldiers of the Dolgyal group have carried out such violent campaigns as murders, arson and beating within the exiled Tibetan community. And they continue to conspire with the government of China to carry out both open and covert actions to harm the fundamental cause of the Tibetan people and the order and harmony in their society. In particular, wherever His Holiness the Dalai Lama travels, Dolgyal followers make it a point to hold demonstrations at which audaciously insane slogans are shouted. In order to pre-empt the effectiveness of their actions, countermeasures will be taken. The true historical origination of Dolgyal and its background and the dangers of worshipping it will be publicized in the places where the foot soldiers of the Dolgyal group live and shout their protests. The sordid actions and the hidden aims of the Dolgyal group foot soldiers will be exposed. And whenever Dolgyal group foot soldiers carry out illegal actions, recourse to judicial remedy and other actions under the laws of the concerned countries will be taken. In the case of those who willy-nilly find themselves subsumed under the influence exerted by Dolgyal followers due to their difficult circumstances and for numerous reasons beyond their control, the concerned Tibetan people as well as people living in the Himalayan regions and foreign followers of Buddhism will be given explanations about the true implications of worshipping Dolgyal. They will thereby be provided much-needed counsel in an attempt to wean them away from the misguided path.’ (12) It is only after this long diatribe against the Shugden practitioners that Tsering makes a short reference to Chinese spies and improving the security department.
There are two things about this piece of propaganda that make it particularly disturbing:
- It is part of Tsering’s election manifesto, he is promoting himself for office by encouraging Tibetans to fear their fellow Tibetans, this shows arrogant disregard for any democratic principles that should be in place in the exile community in India.
- The propaganda uses terms and apparently threatening language towards the Shugden community that should be raising alarm bells in the international community. He refers to the Shugden community as ‘foot soldiers’ who ‘continue to conspire with the government of China to carry out both open and covert actions to harm the fundamental cause of the Tibetan people.’ By using such references he is putting the Shugden practitioners on the opposite side to all Tibetans, on the side of the ‘enemy,’ the Chinese who occupied Tibet, and he does this in a way that suggests violence, ‘foot soldiers.’ He uses thinly veiled threatening language, ‘countermeasures will be taken….. in the places where the foot soldiers of the Dolgyal group live … will be exposed … recourse to judicial remedy.’
Many Tibetans in the exile community are frustrated and disappointed at what they see as the lack of open opposition to China’s occupation of Tibet, since the Dalai Lama adopted the Middle Way. As time has passed the lack of progress in negotiations has left many Tibetans disillusioned with political and religious leaders in their community who do not advocate direct action against the Chinese. Both candidates for the Sikyong election are from the same Middle Way party politics so Tibetans have little choice but to follow this path. The Middle Way strategy means that Tsering cannot present himself as someone who will actively fight against the Chinese, however what he can do instead is whip up support for himself in the elections, by throwing Shugden practitioners under the bus. This aggressive rhetoric against Shugden practitioners counteracts his image as a passive, or weak, Middle Way supporter. Social media comments against Shugden practitioners show aggressive rhetoric that was formerly used against the Chinese, is now being used against fellow Tibetans, as a direct result of this orchestrated campaign. It is a well-known political strategy to unite people against a common enemy and this is often used by politicians to gain popularity and votes. Tsering cannot openly use the Chinese as the enemy, to unite the voters to support him, so he deliberately maligns the Shugden practitioners to make them the common enemy instead.
This is a dangerous strategy because at some point this rhetoric could easily tip over into actual violence against the Shugden community. There is already evidence of such violence in the past ( See Part 4 –Shugden Scapegoat) and Shugden practitioners were forced to leave their communities or practice in secret. This could happen again if this irresponsible, orchestrated campaign is continued. The CTA state that no one has been harmed since they published the hit list on their website, this could be a ‘yet’. If anger and frustration continue to grow in the exile community, fed by this anti –Shugden propaganda, the people on the list, and other people in the community could find themselves in serious danger of being physically harmed. Recently the Sera Jey monastery introduced identity badges that distinguished them from Shugden practitioners in the community. (13) These badges would make it much easier to identify the Shugden practitioners should anyone wish to harm them.
Manipulation through fear -Rangzen supporters
Many of these tactics of arousing fear towards groups of people in the Tibetan community, for political gain, are also used against Rangzen practitioners. Rangzen is the name given to the people who support Independence for Tibet, this includes the members of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), who want direct action against China to bring about autonomy, or Freedom, for Tibet. The Rangzen strategy obviously goes against the Dalai Lama and CTA’s Middle Way strategy; instead of using democratic principles, such as debate and fair voting, to manage the political conflict between the two methods, the CTA use manipulation through fear instead.
Examples of Rangzen being portrayed as a security threat:
i) ‘Unfortunately public expression by the Dalai Lama of his unhappiness about Tibetan Youth Congress in some context in a religious congregation a few years ago, hurt the image and morale of this most influential and the largest socio-political organization of the Tibetan refugee community. An influential lobby in Dharamsala establishment, which claims to be committed supporter of the Dalai Lama’s ‘middle-path’ exploited this public expression of the supreme leader in browbeating the pro-Rangzen groups including TYC as ‘anti Dalai Lama’. Similarly another comment of the Dalai Lama about certain set of prominent political thinkers of the refugee community too was misquoted and exploited by some ‘middle-path’ enthusiasts to demoralize and corner the followers of the ‘Rangzen’ school among the Tibetan community. Such avoidable developments have severely damaged the social and political unity of the Tibetan community. Interestingly, all this has been going on in the name of keeping the Chinese leadership in good humour despite the fact that Beijing has been consistently rejecting the Dalai Lama’s idea of ‘Middle Path’ and ‘Autonomy’ as Dharamsala’s secret ploys to split China from the back door.’ (14)
ii) ‘On social media platforms – a parallel universe that can sometimes feel more real than the real world for stateless exiles who have lost their sense of territory – there was an avalanche of insults and denunciations against Lukar. Many Tibetans were terrified by the specter of a Lukar Prime Ministership, and called him all kinds of unprintable names. Predictably, they also slapped on him the more printable and less erasable tag, “anti-Dalai Lama.” In Tibetan society, this label can get you ostracized for life. Even the Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Penpa Tsering, who is also running for Sikyong, declared that he would not participate in any debate or forum where Lukar is also present. At first this undemocratic statement shocked me, because the word on the street is that Penpa la is usually considered far more liberal than most of the Dharamsala politicians. But under closer analysis, I began to suspect that this was partly a calculated move by the Speaker to avoid having to engage with a formidable debater, and partly a premeditated soundbite aimed at appealing to the masses of faith-driven voters. Tragically, Tibetan society today has lost its ability to embrace intellectual differences and accommodate ideological disagreements. Driven by two false assumptions – that China would resolve the Tibet issue if all Tibetans agreed with each other, and that unity is founded upon uniformity – the conservatives among us have sought to isolate anyone who voices an opinion different from the mainstream narrative, especially when that opinion appears to be at odds with that of His Holiness. As a result, the whole exile population is being split into two sides: the Middle Way camp and the Rangzen camp. Ironically, some of the most polarizing words and malicious tactics in recent memory have been used by conservative fundamentalists in the name of advancing the Middle Way. This false dichotomy has turned both sides into caricatures of themselves, demonizing each other, unable to see that they are both located along the same continuum. But wait, on second thought, a few Rangzen advocates who were running for seats in the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress in New York were actually labelled “anti-Dalai Lama” earlier this year during a controversial election. This worrisome incident points to the rise of a Tibetan equivalent of the Bush-Cheney doctrine: “You’re either with us or against us.” In Tibetan politics, some conservative hawks are beginning to warn Rangzen advocates: “You’re either with His Holiness or against him.” Some Tibetan elders have privately confided to me that they do not approve of our community’s vilification of Lukar. However, what makes them lose sleep at night is the fear that Lukar’s words may undermine young Tibetans’ faith in His Holiness.’ (15)
By cynically using themes and carefully chosen emotive language that engender fear in the community against certain groups, the Exile administration is able to turn aspects of the Tibetans’ struggle into propaganda to be used for their own benefit. The exile administration’s agenda was formed by the Dalai Lama and is still controlled by him and his cronies. (See Part Two – Religion and Politics) This administration has substantial financial and political backing from the West, particularly the United States (See Part Three – Corporate Power) It seems from the evidence gathered in these articles thus far, that those backing the exile administration have done little to responsibly monitor the activities of those in power, or to insure that the human rights of all Tibetans are being protected.