In a show of utter contempt for the principles of freedom, fairness and democracy, the Dalai Lama’s government in exile, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has on the 30th of May 2014, ADDED to its ‘hit-list’ of Dorje Shugden protesters. The earlier list had attracted criticism from all over the world because publishing the list of people who had protested against the Dalai Lama in his recent US and European tour, even to the point of providing addresses, has only one purpose – to direct the hatred of the Tibetan people against a group of Buddhists who have fallen out of favour with the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama has shown many times in the past that despite being celebrated as a man of peace, love and tolerance, he in fact has no tolerance whatsoever for dissension. To disagree with the Dalai Lama, even in peaceful protest of his ongoing infringement of Shugden followers’ basic human rights, is regarded as a crime and publishing this hit-list and now adding to it, clearly demonstrates that the Dalai Lama is hell-bent on destroying an ancient religious practice and along the way, much of the Tibetan people’s culture.
After the publication of the initial list which contained 20 names, the CTA was condemned even by supporters of the Dalai Lama who, despite their fervour for their spiritual leader, were not blinded by how wrong and undemocratic such an act is. They know that this list squarely places the lives of those named in danger. This is because the Dalai Lama and CTA’s smear campaigns and negative propaganda over the decades have ingrained into the minds of the Tibetan society that to oppose the Dalai Lama in his religious ban is to wish him an early demise and to wish the failure of the Tibetan cause and it is the duty of all Tibetans to fight this with any means necessary. The recent spate of violence against Shugden practitioners indicate that this belief is deeply entrenched in the minds of the people and hence it was not necessary for the CTA to say much more than to make the list of names publicly available.
The International Shugden Community through its legal representative Mr. Len Foley put the Dalai Lama on notice through a formal letter to his representative in the US, Mr. Kaydor Aukatsang, that they will hold the Dalai Lama personally accountable should any harm befall those named on the list. Similarly, the CTA cannot escape culpability and will be held liable jointly and severally for its role in bringing harm to those on the list and Shugden practitioners in general. The CTA may not have realised that it has endangered not only the lives of Shugden followers in the exile community but also caused harm to residents and citizens of other countries such as the US and France where they are protected by various laws that do not tolerate such breaches of civil liberties.
Or perhaps, like the Dalai Lama, years of unrestrained persecution of a group of helpless people have made them feel immune to repercussions. So instead of taking heed of the views of the people, and the criminality in inciting violence to be inflicted upon these people, the CTA now adds to an already grievous and dangerous mistake, bringing the list to 34 names. This not only shows how intent the Dalai Lama is in intimidating any opposition to his rule, it also demonstrates the Dalai Lama’s total disregard for the laws and civil liberties of the people. It is obvious that this move is sanctioned by the Dalai Lama because the CTA has shown itself not to be an independent and democratic entity but the Dalai Lama’s instrument of oppression.
In 1996, the CTA decreed the Dorje Shugden ban and have since amended its Constitution to institutionalize the Dalai Lama’s prejudice. No other government that claims to be democratic would ever deem it proper and lawful to be involved in religious matters (save to enact laws to protect its free expression), let alone avail itself as a vehicle of persecution. While the CTA’s own Constitution claims to protect the rights of all Tibetans to practice their respective beliefs, clearly it has no respect for its own highest law.
Looking at the actions of the CTA and their defiance of international human rights policy, the world at large can no longer remain idle bystanders. Decades of failure of Western governments and human rights bodies to act against clear breaches of human rights have emboldened the Dalai Lama and the CTA. This latest move of adding to the hit-list shows that the Dalai Lama is confident that the world will not act against him. Many of those named on the list are now living in the USA and various parts of Europe but, despite being residents of liberal countries, they will not be protected from the Dalai Lama’s attack. The Dalai Lama has in the past exported this campaign of hate outside Dharamsala, to all parts of the world where they are Dorje Shugden worshippers.
The danger this poses is that the Dalai Lama’s unholy crusade effectively exports a culture of hate and destruction into Western societies around the world which have worked hard to cultivate harmony in plurality of religion. The Dorje Shugden ban is no longer an exclusively Tibetan practice and this emanation of the Wisdom Buddha is worshipped all over the world and has become popular in the West. Some of the fastest growing Buddhist centres in the world such as the New Kadampaa Tradition (NKT) are followers of Je Tsongkapa’s lineage and therefore believers of Dorje Shugden, who is long recognized as the protector of Tsongkapa’s most precious teachings.
In attacking Shugden worshippers who are now residents of various parts of the world, the Dalai Lama’s ban draws believers of all races and creeds into its fray and creates a dangerous division in liberal societies between those who practice Dorje Shugden and those who oppose it in obedience and support of the Dalai Lama. To put it briefly the Dalai Lama’s ban has effectively ‘weaponized’ a religious belief and exported it all over the world as an instrument of hate that will play out within world communities wherever there are believers of this practice and those who are opposed to it. Just looking at how many Westerners participated in the recent protests against the Dalai Lama and how many Western Dalai Lama fans there are within the very same community, is a good indication of the threat to the unity of that society.
And this is happening at an extremely crucial time when world peace is becoming increasingly delicate. Just last year in May, the U.S. State Department released the “International Religious Freedom” report which highlighted the rise of religious intolerance worldwide. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave reporters a summary of the report. He said:
[It] shines light on the challenges people face as they seek nothing more than basic religious freedom and the right to worship as they wish.
Kerry also warned that:
When countries undermine or attack religious freedom, they threaten their country’s own stability.
The same applies when the Dalai Lama is allowed to attack the religious freedom of those living in foreign countries.
The report opened with a quote from President Barack Obama, who said religious freedom was, “an essential part of human dignity, and without it our world cannot know lasting peace”. In a nutshell, the report concluded that repressing religious freedom increases the danger of political and societal instability worldwide which is very logical. Intolerance breeds injustice. Injustice invariably leads to retaliation and over time, it escalates to a point where reconciliation becomes almost impossible.
Once the seed of religious strife has been planted and left unattended, it has a tendency to develop its own course and go on to become permanent feuds. Religious conflicts need not necessarily manifest as a cross-border quarrel with opposing parties, each from a different religion and clearly identifiable, bearing arms against one another. There is also the intra-religion conflict that plays out within a community, and works like cancer to tear the community apart from within.
Ultimately it is this form of conflict that is far more difficult to eradicate. It takes expression as a society turning on its own members with dividing lines being blurred and already fault lines are appearing in liberal societies where the ban is felt. History has proven that when religious conflicts ripen to a certain point, there is no lasting peace even if one was able to be forged. The suspicions and tensions are always bubbling away beneath the surface waiting to erupt. The key therefore is to be able to identify such a problem before it becomes culturally entrenched and intractable. And therefore it is time for the US and the world to see the Dalai Lama’s Dorje Shugden ban exactly for what it has mutated into.
The Dorje Shugden ban is no longer a domestic Tibetan question and it is now a matter for the world to take notice of and act. In the end, it is not a question of religion but of human rights. In taking action against an illegal persecution of a people based on religion, the world is sending out a message that intolerance cannot be tolerated regardless of who the perpetrator is. The Dalai Lama and CTA have become brazen in their human rights breaches over the years and now with this new hit-list, behaves as if they are above the law.