Author Topic: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang  (Read 7959 times)

Ensapa

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the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« on: June 28, 2012, 09:56:38 AM »
Ganden Phodrang, or what CTA was called before they were exiled, has done many negative things ever since they  existed. I'll list some of the crimes that CTA has done against Buddhism and people in general. Before the China takeover, they had very cruel corporal punishments that were actually mentioned in the Yellow book as well such as eye gouging and having hot oil poured into the sockets and people having their limbs chopped off. So much for peaceful tibet! So why again that CTA should regain Tibet? so that they can re-implement these tortures?

List of known lamas banned from reincarnating by CTA to date:

- Tulku Drangpa Gyaltsen (returned as Dorje Shugden, Guru Dewa Rinpoche, Samdhong Rinpoche, Ngari Rinpoche)
- Taranatha (came back as the line of Jetsun Dampa incarnations)
- Chankya Rolpa Dorje (came back as Pabongkha Rinpoche)
- Sharmapa (unbanned now)
- Karmapa (unbanned now)
- Reting Rinpoche (Incantation came back but is keeping a very low profile)

Note that these lamas were banned for political reasons mostly, and all of them had their estates seized by the governments. In CTA's history, the reasons for their banning were never clear or that there were never any definite proof of their "crimes". These Lamas came back anyway even after some of them were forced to sign a letter saying that they will not reincarnate back, because it takes more than a government edict to stop the deeds of a Bodhisattva. If the CTA was a Buddhist government from the start, why would they stop the activities of great Bodhisattvas? That shows that they were not Buddhist! And instead of learning from history and not banning anyone, they continued their legacy of suppression with the ban on Dorje Shugden. There is no guarantee that they will not implement such harsh and barbaric rules that included eye gouging and amputation as they did in the past:


Man with hands chopped off, most probably for stealing as this was the law that was implemented by Songtsen Gampo, 1000 years ago, until now where it is no longer acceptable or relevant even before China invaded Tibet.


Eye gouging was the punishment for those suspecting of going against the Tibetan government. Now, that's harsh compared to what China does for people suspected with treason

What can the CTA do to promise anyone that this will not happen again? they are unable to explain the pictures (conveniently ignored) and they are unable to explain anything. Instead, this is their response:

Quote

Before the Chinese invasion in 1949, Tibet was neither an ideal society nor "a feudal serf system." It was a politically independent, economically self-sufficient and culturally distinct nation with a different way of administration than many countries around the world at that time.

Starting with Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century, Tibetan rulers issued codes of ethics based on Buddhist principles. The essence of this was that the rulers should act as parents to their subjects. This was reflected in Songtsen’s "Sixteen Moral Principles" and Phagmodrupa's "Thirteen Guidelines of Procedure and Punishment" in the fourteenth century.

As in any other society, Tibet had many methods of punishment sanctioned by law, some of which were indigenous. However, according to contemporary Tibetan scholar Jamyang Norbu, most of these penal punishment such as the cangue ? which Tibetans appropriately call the gya-go or “Chinese door” ? and execution by decapitation originated from the Manchus. (Read full article)

These measures were never lightly used but were decreed only in cases of repeated crime. In 1898, Tibet passed a law abolishing many of the above-mentioned forms of punishment, except in rare cases of high treason or conspiracy against the state. Banishing convicts to distant places within Tibet was the preferred punishment; this was the fate of Kunphel-la, who was exiled to a remote monastery in Kongpo. Kunphel-la was the favourite of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, but was later charged and found guilty of failing to report the fatal illness of the Thirteenth to the Cabinet.

The legal system, and the rule-of-law, became more advanced over the centuries and by the beginning of the 20th century any citizen who was not satisfied with a legal judgement passed by the local administrator ? or was mistreated by an estate-holder could directly appeal to the Dalai Lama, Tibet's supreme temporal and religious leader.



However, they forgot that the Yellow Book by Zemey Rinpoche proves that China's account of their brutal punishments were true and not what they would want everyone to believe. China did not lie. It was CTA that lied.

Quote
During that political backstabbing, Lungshar was arrested and put behind the bars. His eye balls
were taken out and in their place boiling oil was poured. The intensity of
his pain and misery were beyond imagination. The last few years in he
prison were most pathetic. Finally he died in prison.


I am guessing that Reting Rinpoche died the same way too. Horrible, that they would subject such a high bodhisattva to such torture. Horrible!

Does this sound like a Buddhist government in any way? I dont think so.

Does anyone else know of the "crimes" of CTA? do share here. the Dorje Shugden ban is just the tip of the iceberg.

Positive Change

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2012, 01:54:00 PM »
The following are accounts of Legal Punishment in Tibet from Imperial Chinese Rule to Independence. I have highlighted some of the punishments and also interesting points to note:

On November 1st 1728, in a meadow on the banks of the Bamari canal, a short distance south-west of the Potala, seventeen Tibetans were put to death by executioners of the Manchu expeditionary force. Thirteen were decapitated and two high lamas were slowly strangled to death. The principal prisoners, two ministers of the kashag, Ngabo and Lumpa were put to death by the uniquely Chinese form of execution known as língchí sometimes translated as the “lingering death or “death of a thousand cuts” whereby the condemned person had small portions of the body methodically cut off with a knife over an extended period of time perhaps even a few days till he finally died. The term língchí derives from a classical description of leisurely walking up a mountain.

The citizens of Lhasa, who had been forced to witness this terrible event were profoundly traumatized by the spectacle as it was meant to be according to the historian Luciano Petech. To drive home this lesson in legal terror, all the relatives including children of the condemned were also executed. One Tibetan eyewitness, the official and scholar, Dokar Tsering Wangyal, wrote five years later, that even with the passage of time he still felt gloomy and disturbed in recalling the events. The Tibetan minister Phola was also deeply distressed by the spectacle, and in the following days made offerings and burnt butter lamps in the many temples of Lhasa for the spiritual welfare of those killed. In point of fact the executed ministers had been his adversaries in a civil war, which had provided the casus belli for the expeditionary force to march into Tibet and shore up the establishment of Imperial Chinese protectorate in Tibet.

This form of execution was used in China from roughly AD 900 to its official abolition in 1905. But in a recent study from Harvard University Press on língchí , the authors mention occurrences of língchí executions in Eastern Tibet as late as 1910, by Zhao Erfeng’s administration. Khampas claimed that Chinese soldiers “would bring slow death by slicing off a small part of the body at a time until the heart was reached and life ended”. The authors suggest that “ this could have been justified as military emergency.”

The Tibetan poet and blogger extraordinaire, Woeser, in a recent interview refuting official Chinese propaganda about “barbaric feudal serfdom”  (invariably “proven” by exhibitions of torture instruments allegedly used in Tibet such as cages, shackles, neck pillory, stones, and knives used to dig out one’s eyeballs) said that “the most brutal torture instruments came from the inland – the imperial envoys from the Qing Dynasty brought them to Tibet.”

One of the more conspicuous of Chinese contributions in this regard was the mu jia, which in most European writings on China is referred to as the cangue. It was similar to the pillory in the West, except that the board of the cangue was not fixed to a base, and had to be carried around by the prisoner. In Tibet it was known, appropriately enough, as gya-go or “Chinese door”, and was used widely by the Manchu Chinese administration. The cangue, in addition to being an effective restraint, was because of its weight, a most painful form of punishment. The traditional Tibetan method of restraining prisoners was with leg-irons (kang-chak). The American scholar William Rockhill noted that “The Chinese punishment of the cangue is now adopted throughout Tibet, the criminals wearing it also heavily chained. The cangue is called in Tibetan, tse-go.” The term tse-go is most probably Khampa.

Another form of judicial torture and punishment that was introduced to Tibet by the Chinese was the finger-press. This instrument was on display this year at the “50th Anniversary of Democratic Reforms in Tibet” Exhibition in Beijing along with other instruments of torture, and photographs “proving” the barbarity of old Tibet. But this allegedly Tibetan torture-instrument doesn’t even have a Tibetan name, while we find that very same finger-press in a Ming dynasty compendium of such articles.

But execution by decapitation, was the standard Chinese punishment for those who might defy them in Tibet. This punishment became especially prevalent around 1910 when the 13th Dalai Lama escaped to India and acts of defiance and rebellion began to take place against Imperial Chinese rule. According to an old monk who claimed to have witnessed an execution take place at the Chinese parade ground (jiaochang) in Shigatse, the condemned Tibetan had to get down on his knee while a Manchu soldier pulled his hair so that his neck was extended and readied for the big executioners sword.

The events of 1728 saw the creation of the office of the amban, or imperial residents in Lhasa. The first two ambans, Seng Ta-zing and Me Ta-zing (as Tibetan records refer to them) conducted a thorough reorganization of the military and administration in Tibet, and also appear to have introduced Chinese forms of judicial punishment – used alongside traditional Tibetan forms of punishment. But the Chinese punishments were clearly more effective in subduing Tibetans. Petech, in his history of early 18th century Tibet, concludes that Imperial power in Tibet was based, among other things, “on the terror inspired in the hearts of the Tibetan aristocracy by the bloody repression of 1728.”

The ambans also established a special security and inquisitional force, called the thuvin or thubin (probably a Manchu term) distinct from the traditional Tibetan constabulary, the korchakpa. Rebecca French, the scholar on Tibetan jurisprudence, writes that the thuvin were “said to have been clothed in Chinese dress and trained in physical punishment techniques by the Lhasa representative of the Chinese government (amban).”[8]  Sarat Chandra Das who travelled to Tibet in the late eighteen hundreds mentions that “At Lhasa nowadays, various Chinese tortures are used.”[9]

But Chinese despotism and legal terror was probably experienced worst of all in Eastern Tibet, not only during the Manchu dynasty but also in the Republican era, and later, the War Lord period as well. Eric Teichman the English diplomat who arranged for the negotiations between the Tibetan and the Chinese army in Kham in 1918, quoting a European missionary, writes “There is no method of torture known that is not practiced in here on the Tibetans, slicing, skinning, boiling, tearing asunder, and all.”

In an old National Geographic Magazine (September 1921 issue) about life in Eastern Tibet there is this photograph of a giant cauldron used in monasteries to make tea for the monk community. The caption read. “A cauldron which has been used by the Chinese for cooking Tibetans.” The article by Dr. Albert Shelton did not provide more information, but there is a detailed account of this “cooking of Tibetans” in Shelton’s book Pioneering In Tibet. He had come across this gruesome cauldron in the district of Drayak. The Chinese colonel commanding the garrison in this place had captured some forty-five or fifty Tibetans, and had thought of making himself feared by the Tibetans. He had tied up three of them and placed them in the cauldron in cold water and slowly bought the water up to a boil. After they had been well cooked their bodies had been fed to animals. Shelton actually saw “the skeletons laying bare on the stones near by their flesh all having been eaten by the dog. Others had oil pored on them and had been burned alive. Others had their hands cut off and sent back a warning to those from whom they came. Others had been taken and, with yak hitched to each arm and each leg, had been torn in pieces.”

It should be made clear that the ancient Tibetan legal code, traditionally attributed to Songtsen Gampo, revised by the first Phagmotruba monarch and later revised by the fifth Dalai Lama and Desi Sangye Gyatso, did specify severe forms of capital punishment such as drowning and by being shot at with arrows, for capital crimes. But we are talking of ancient times here, when “traitors” were hung, drawn and quartered in London, heretics were burnt at the stake by the Inquisition in Italy and Spain, and by Calvin in Geneva, and “witches” tortured and hung in Massachussetts. Of course, condemned men were still slowly sliced to death in Imperial Beijing at the beginning of the 20th century.

The last recorded case in Tibet of drowning being carried out as a capital punishment was in 1884, when the Tibetan Parliament ordered the Sengchen Lama to be put to death by drowning because he had assisted the scholar and British agent, Sarat Chandra Das, to travel to Tibet. Other lesser punishments as amputation of the right hand and cutting the Achilles tendon of the feet for repeated offences were prescribed by the code, but later abolished throughout Tibet.

The business of cutting off of hands and amputating feet is one of the standard charges by the Chinese and their Western propagandists against the Dalai Lama and his government. Of course, no mention is ever made that such punishments, as well as the death penalty, were abolished in Tibet in 1913 – an enormously significant but so far overlooked (both by Beijing as well as Dharamshala) historical fact which we will discuss in detail further on. Chinese propaganda publications, films and exhibitions never fail to highlight photographs of old dismembered limbs, skull-caps, bone-ornaments and trumpets made of human thigh-bones trumpets, to prove their point. Readers may remember in the 1970s and 80s the accusation that the Dalai Lama had 108 virgins executed and their thigh-bones made into ritual instruments.

It is often not clear whether such cruel punishments inflicted during the period when Tibet was under the rule of Imperial China were those based on old Tibetan legal codes or actual Chinese punishments introduced to Tibet under Chinese rule? Cutting-off of limbs does fit nicely into a type of Chinese punishment called the Five Pains invented by Li Si, a famous Legalist and a minister of the Qin dynasty, where the victim’s nose was cut off, followed by a hand and a foot. The victim was then castrated and finally cut in half in line across the waist. Li Si himself was ironically executed in this way in 208 BC.

But perhaps more important than establishing the origins of such punishments the crucial question should be under whose political rule – Tibet’s or China’s – were such cruel punishments inflicted on Tibetans? The question is significant as a principal “proof” of China’s claim for Tibet being an “inalienable part of China” is that Tibet was under Manchu rule from the 1700s to 1912.

It is hence quite telling that Beijing and its propagandists in the West, whenever bringing up the subject of  “cruelty and barbarity” of the old Tibetan government and society, are invariably restricted to quoting from Europeans who traveled to Tibet before it became independent in 1912. Preferred writers are L.A. Waddell, Percival Landon, Edmund Candler and Captain WFT O’Conner, who, in addition to their pre-1912 vintage, accompanied the British invasion force of 1904, and who sought to justify that violent imperialist venture into Tibet by demonizing Tibetan society and institutions in much of their writings.

In the official statement issued by Beijing on March 2, 2009 for the commemoration of “Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet” they have a section “ Old Tibet — A Society of Feudal Serfdom under Theocracy” where the initial and extensive description of old Tibetan society is that by British journalist Edmund Candler who is matter-of-factly described as having “visited Tibet in 1904, and recorded the details of old Tibetan society”, He was actually a war correspondent for the Daily Mail and was “embedded” with the British expeditionary force. Furthermore he was badly injured by sword-wielding Tibetan militia men at the first conflict at Guru. So, far from being an impartial witness, he wasn’t even in Tibet for any significant length of time.

Tibetans were beginning to challenge Manchu rule during that period, but no matter how politically assertive they were becoming, they could not, of course, have instituted any changes in the administrative and legal system of Tibet until after the Chinese had been expelled. The Chinese system of torture and beheadings only ended in 1912 when the Chinese garrison in Lhasa finally surrendered, and the troops repatriated to India.

There is good evidence that the young 13th Dalai Lama and many of His officials not only desired to be free of Chinese political rule but also wanted to do away with Chinese laws and punishments in Tibet. In December 1893, the Tibet Trade Regulation Talks were held at Darjeeling between the British and the Chinese. Tibetans were deliberately excluded from the talks, but the kashag sent the minister Shatra to Darjeeling to keep an on the proceedings. The British regarded Shatra’s presence as insolence and apparently had him publicly humiliated. L.A. Waddell was in Darjeeling at the time and interviewed Shatra on a number of occasions. In return Shatra asked Waddell to provide him a summary of British “criminal, police and civil codes” which he wanted to take back to Lhasa for “…the improvement of the government”. Wadell complied with this request and gave him translations of the general contents of the British/Indian legal system. According to Waddell, Shatra was much impressed with the practice of not compelling an accused person to testify against himself, and exclaimed “Why, we, following the Chinese, do the very opposite, for we torture the accused until he confesses to the crime!”

The first clear indication of the Dalai Lama’s enlightened intentions for his nation’s future came after his enthronement in 1895. The former regent Demo Rinpoche after relinquishing power began to plot with his two brothers, Norbu Tsering and Lobsang Dhonden, to murder the Dalai Lama. The plot was discovered and Demo and his two brothers arrested. An outraged National Assembly (tsongdu), called for the death penalty but the Dalai Lama rejected their decision declaring his opposition to capital punishment on Buddhist principles. Professor Melvyn Goldstein retails a rumour that Demo was secretly killed in prison. There is a possibility that an overzealous official could have done something like that, but there is no evidence beyond the rumour.  Sir Charles Bell, in his biography of the Great Thirteenth, writes that the Dalai Lama told him that “… until the time of his flight to India he allowed no capital punishment in any circumstances.”

After His return from exile, on the eighth day of the fourth month of the water Ox Year (1913) the Great Thirteenth, in his declaration of independence, announced the ending of what we might now call “cruel and unusual” punishments – in addition to his earlier abolishment of the death penalty. The statement is quite specific. “Furthermore, the amputations of citizens’ limbs has been carried out as a form of punishment. Henceforth, such severe punishments are forbidden.” Copies of the proclamation were sent out throughout Tibet, and copies had to be maintained in the office of every district.

Charles Bell in his Tibet Past and Present provides, in the book’s index, three references for “Capital punishment abolished in Tibet”. Robert Byron, the noted British travel writer, art critic and historian, traveled to Tibet in the early thirties and observed matter of factly “Capital punishment was now abolished.” Even in such a remote part of Tibet as Zayul, Frank Kingdon-Ward, the plant-hunter, writes of a criminal case in 1937 where a government courier had been murdered, and that the district magistrate did not have the power to inflict the death penalty. Kingdon-Ward drew the conclusion that  “…the modern Tibetan government, having abandoned the barbarous practice of mutilating criminals, in vogue twenty-five years ago, has swung to the other extreme, and is chary of inflicting the death penalty.”

William Montgomery McGovern, the American anthropologist who traveled to Lhasa in disguise in 1922 (and who was possibly an inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones) not only mentions the abolishment of capital punishment, but also notes the Dalai Lamas’ consideration that such punishments were inconsistent with Buddhism. He also writes that “legally the judges can now only inflict flogging or banishment for any crime, including murder. The Lhasa magistrates stated that these sentences were not sufficiently severe to deter other offenders, and expressed regret that the old system had been done away with.”

Charles Bell also noted that Nepal objected to the abolition of the death penalty in Tibet, as a few cases had come up where Tibetans who had murdered Nepalese subjects had received lesser sentences. A “high Tibetan official” told Bell that. “The Nepalese authorities demand that we shall put those Tibetan to death. So far we have not consented.”

Alan Winnington, the left wing journalist who was the first European allowed into Tibet after its “liberation” by Communist China – when the legal system was still the traditional one – was informed by “the chief magistrate and mayor of Lhasa,” Gorkar Mepon that “no death sentences have been imposed in Tibet for some years”. Winnington discussed “lighter sentences” as amputation, but received an unexpected reply. “‘But such things have not been done in my memory.’ the Mepon insisted.”

Although there were shortcomings and occasional lapses in the implementation of the law, one must certainly describe its realization as monumental, certainly impressive. Tibet was one of the first countries in the world to end capital punishment. It is, of course, ongoing in the USA and Britain, and, it might be noted in Buddhist Sri Lanka and Thailand as well. In the latter country Buddhist sensibilities are supposedly assuaged by shooting the condemned man from behind a curtain. Japan still has the death penalty and Bhutan only abolished it in 2004.

Even the few instances when the Dalai Lama’s revolutionary legal decision was violated or contravened, serves to demonstrate the fullness of Tibetan commitment to the Great 13th’s ideals. In 1924 when a soldier died under punishment, Tsarong, the Commander in Chief of the Tibetan army, a man who had personally saved the Dalai Lama’s life, was demoted and permanently relieved of his military duties.

Not only is there no record of executions after 1913, but the one recorded case of a “cruel and unusual” punishment being officially inflicted serves to demonstrate how deeply the law had taken root in Tibetan life. Some years after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama, the official, Lungshar, attempted a violent coup d’état. On its failure many in the government wanted Lungshar executed but the old law stood in their way. So Lungshar was sentenced to the lesser punishment of having his eyes removed. The operation was badly botched. Such punishments had for so long fallen into desuetude that, according to even such a relatively anti-Tibetan academic as Melvin Goldstein, the class of people who in the past had carried out executions and such punishments found it very difficult to do so and they “…told the government that they were only able to do it because their parents had told them how it was done.”

Aside from this case there is virtually no record of “eye gouging” or amputations being carried out as a punishment in Tibet. Alan Winnington has no such cases in his book. Anna Louise Strong, China’s foremost American Communist propagandist, traveled through Tibet and wrote two books, but although she retails atrocity stories by the bushel she only has the same one photograph of a blind man in both her books. He is not named but Strong claims that he “was blinded by rebels for helping repair the PLA highway”. A Chinese propaganda pictorial published in 1981 also has a photograph of a “herdsman blinded by the rebels.” But so far I have not come across any photograph in Chinese propaganda material of anyone blinded as a legal punishment by the Tibetan government. Even the charge of “blinding by rebels” must be treated warily as no further detail of the victims or the crime, beside the picture captions, appear to exist anywhere.

What is always surprising in such propaganda exercises by China is the absolute lack of specificity in their claims of atrocities in old Tibet. Not only are the so called victims not named but even more surprisingly no names of the perpetrators – feudal lords or local magistrates – are ever mentioned. The Chinese have in their possession all the old Tibetan court records from the past. Yet as far as I know, not a single Tibetan aristocrat, official or magistrate has been specifically charged with eye gouging or cutting of anyone’s hands or legs . Thousands of Tibetans have been executed for counter-revolutionary and “splittist” crimes, but I have not heard or read of one Tibetan aristocrat or magistrate having been executed for those “cruel and barbaric” tortures and crimes described in Chinese propaganda. Even the instruments of torture so lovingly displayed in their museum-like settings lack any kind of provenance. There is no mention in the labels of the persons, prisons or courthouses from where these objects where acquired, or any mention of the period of their alleged use.


When all’s said and done Chinese propaganda about the “man-eating serf system” doesn’t amount to very much: the same old photographs of torture instruments (many of Chinese origin) and human thigh bones and skulls you could quite easily pick up in a curio or antique store in Kathmandu, New York, New Delhi and these days even in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, I would imagine.

This is not directly related, but interesting to bring up (and deal with once and for all) a most outrageously fictitious charge that appears in nearly every Chinese propaganda publication I have come across. It is a photograph of a Tibetan man carrying another Tibetan piggyback. The caption reads “Carrying officials on their back – one of the many compulsory labour services extorted from the serfs.” First of all the man being carried is clearly not an official judging by his clothes. Secondly, the apparatchik in the Ministry of Truth in Beijing who dreamed this up did not seem to have realised that Tibetans were horsemen and Tibet, horse country. All Tibetans rode horses, including women, children, old people and high lamas. Only beggars and pilgrims walked, and the latter did so to increase the merit of their pilgrimage. Even the Dalai Lama rode a horse or sometimes a hornless yak (nalo) when he travelled. He had a palanquin (a gift from the Chinese Emperor), but it was only used in some formal processions in Lhasa. There were no other palanquins or sedan chairs in Tibet. Before 1912 the ambans rode about in official style palanquins, guanjiao, as did other Chinese officials in Tibet and Kham.

In fact some scholars attribute the remarkable military success of Zhao Erfeng in Eastern Tibet to the fact that unlike other Chinese mandarins who were tied to their palanquin and their opium pipe, he was a tough leader who shared his soldiers hardships. Eric Teichman writes of Zhao that “Unlike the somewhat effeminate and ease-loving Szechuanese, he disdained the sedan chair, and traveled all over Eastern Tibet on horse-back.”

Admirable as that was, it might be pointed out, again, that on the Tibetan side, everyone from the highest lamas, aristocrats, grandmothers, ladies even the governor-general of Eastern Tibet himself, rode a horse or walked.

The custom of using human beings to carry other humans is demonstrably a Chinese not a Tibetan one. Traditional transport in China was largely a matter of sedan-chairs, palanquins and rickshaws, all pulled or carried by poor Chinese coolies. Lao She’s famous novel Rickshaw (Lo Tuo Xiang Zi) provides a heart-rending account of the miserable life of one of these TB ridden, opium-smoking beasts of burden. Under Communist Chinese rule, a cousin of mine in Lhasa (with bad class background) was assigned to be a hand-cart (therka) puller. For over twenty years he hauled building materials, produce, and people all over the holy city, and still has the heavy calluses on his hands to prove it.

If we go through travelers accounts of Tibet written after 1913 and up to the Communist invasion, whether written by Europeans or even Chinese, reports of cruel punishments that featured in earlier narratives seem to have quite disappeared. Heinrich Harrer who had read most negative accounts by early English travelers, writes that “We never saw any punishments as cruel as this. As time has gone on the Tibetans seem to have become more lenient. I remember witnessing a public flogging which I thought was not severe enough.”

Charles Bell also mentions something to the effect that over time Tibetans had become more gentle and civilized, and hints here and there at the civilizing effect of contact with British India. Albert Shelton is more specific that it was the influence of English customs and laws that the Dalai Lama and Tibetan officials absorbed during their exile in Darjeeling, that had made them more humane and civilized. We can agree with Bell and Shelton, up to a point, but we must bear in mind that the British were hanging natives galore in India and elsewhere in the colonies. So the 13th Dalai Lama’s decision to renounce capital punishment could not really have been influenced by that particular model.

The Tibetan legal system, even after the 13th Dalai Lama’s reforms was admittedly imperfect, corrupt and many of the punishments it retained brutal. For instance the standard punishment in Tibet was flogging with a leather whip. It was not as cruel as the cat-o’ nine tails of the Royal navy (used in the navy and in British prisons till 1957) where sometimes steel balls or barbs of wire were added to the tips of the thongs to maximize the potential flogging injury.

Fatality was also minimized in Tibet as prisoners were whipped on the buttocks and not on the back. Nonetheless it was undeniably brutal by today’s standards, and I don’t think the practice can be defended, even if it was being carried out in Tibet before 1950, or that many countries in Africa and Asia still retain the punishment: including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and, of course, China – where the practice has been modernized with the use of electric batons.

Tibetan prisons were also definitely unpleasant places. But incarceration, other than during trial was not imposed in most of Tibet, because of the expense and problems it entailed. According to Woeser, there were two very small prisons in Lhasa, “They were only big enough for about 20 prisoners.” Another source on Tibetan jurisprudence also mentions that the Shol court prison in Lhasa only had space for “thirty to fifty men”, while the main city Nangtse-shak prison had only two holding rooms and a basement room, that probably could not hold over thirty people at most.[26] Criminals were often restrained in leg shackles and allowed to roam the city, unsupervised, and beg for their living. More important political prisoners were banished to Western and Southern Tibet, as in the case of Kunphel la, Changlochen, Khyungram and others. Only in a few rare cases were political prisoners actually kept in Lhasa jails. Lungshar was imprisoned for four years and Gedun Chophel for three.

When Gedun Chophel was in the city prison he “…was given a separate room on an upper floor and was allowed to receive food and bedding from friends” according to Donald Lopez. He was then transferred to the Zhol prison. “ Although the physical conditions there were worse, he was given writing materials. He continued his work on the White Annals as and also wrote letters and poetry. After his release the government “provided him with rooms behind the Jokhang, above the Ministry of Agriculture, along with a stipend of money and grain, with the instruction that he resume work on the White Annals. He did not do so.” I do not mention this to play down the Tibetan government’s treatment of the great scholar, but to compare it with conditions in  Chinese prisons. Has anyone written poetry or history in a laogai camp?

General amnesties were not uncommon in Tibet, when all prisoners were freed, the courts and prisons emptied out, cleaned and decorated with auspicious drawings done with whitewash. This would happen on the discovery of a new incarnation of the Dalai Lama, his enthronement or on the occasion of his obstacle (kag) years. It might also happen on the installation of a regent, or a period of national crisis or national celebration.

Communist propaganda about “horrible dungeons of the Potala filled with poisonous scorpions” are old wives tales. Lhasa prisons probably had some scorpions and spiders, as any dank place would. Lungshar complained about them to his son. A native of Lhasa, Tupten Khetsun, mentions in his memoirs, how a Chinese propaganda team went about photographing and filming a prison in Lhasa, filling it beforehand with skeletons and scorpions. “The Shol neighbourhood committee had children collect scorpions to use for the propaganda movie. But when they tried to film, the scorpions would not stay on top of the corpses where they had been placed and kept escaping into cracks into the walls, so they had to be held in place with invisible threads attached to their limbs.”

What Thupten Khetsun’s book also brings into perspective is how negligibly insignificant in size or iniquity Tibet’s traditional penal system was when compared to the gigantic prison and lagogai system that China created and maintains in Tibet (and in the PRC). In and around Lhasa alone we had, after 1959, such major prisons and holding areas as Silingpu, Tering, Norbulingka, Trapchi, Gutsa, to name a few, where thousands of prisoners were incarcerated and where in at least three, Tubten did time. Tubten also served in the forced labour camps (laogai) in Nachen and Powo-Tramo, where he and tens of thousand of Tibetan prisoners literally slaved away, and where many thousands died. We must also mention in Amdo and Kham, the giant laogai camps at Tsaidam, Ragnakhag in Minya, and Yakraphuk north of Dhartsedo.  It goes without saying, of course, that we are talking about a system that is ongoing.

What is also ongoing under Communist Chinese rule is the barbaric cruelty, injustice and terror that Tibetans had to endure under Imperial Chinese rule – until independence in 1912.

Vajraprotector

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2012, 03:48:31 PM »
If we are talking about ganden Phodrang of Old Tibet, I will dismiss it as 'feaudal', but even as recent as a few years back, they have removed Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang's name from the Lamrim lineage prayer (read more on this thread: http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=744.0)

In 2003, Dharamsala concluded a year-long celebration of the *360th anniversary of the Gaden Phodrang Government. But what was there to really celebrate? Also, don't forget that the ban was also executed by this government.

I do hope the new Kalon Tripa will help to revolutionise the government, but only time can tell.

*In 1642 when Ghurshi Tenzin Choegyal, the Mongol emperor conferred upon the fifth Dalai Lama Lobsang Gytaso the political authority over Tibet

Big Uncle

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2012, 04:53:12 PM »
If we want to dig up history on feudalistic Tibet, there is a lot to talk about and the list goes on. However, there is little that will happen if we continue to just demonize CTA. Every country have a similar history. So, what's the point in digging up history when it does so little to serve the point of lifting the ban?

I think it is pointless and everyone already know that Tibet before the Chinese invasion was corrupt, backwards and cruel to her own people. But that was the past and we can do much to encourage the new leaders of CTA that things can be different. A new secular government with secular policies that will finally look after the welfare of the people.

I think CTA could very well really take control of the running of the state and ensure that only secular affairs are managed. Hence, there is no room for religious policies like the ban. So, in that way, there's no need to demonize CTA because that will embolden them to do anything. The time has come for CTA to take on the reins of the government and decide the future of the CTA. I believe the Dalai Lama retired from his office for a reason and that should be to put the power back into the people's hands.

michaela

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2012, 05:13:03 PM »
Dear Ensapa

I am not trying to deny that CTA has implemented harsh punishments or picture them as clean cut government. here.  But I just want to put it in a historical context. 

“Harsh” punishments

The idea of valuing human rights seriously have just been seriously brought up in the 20th century.  Before then, it is quite common for authorities around the world religious or not to enforce what is called “harsh” punishments for the modern perspective – The burning, the hangging, hand chopping, etc.  Even these days, there are still kingdoms that still implement “harsh” corporal punishment for example in Middle East, women who are found to be with child out of wedlock are stoned to death and thiefs have their hands cut off.

Even what is considered today as a more humane punishments such as the gas chamber, hanging, or death penalty by injection, for me they are no less harsh than the head chopping, just less bloddy so to say.  Because it is cleaner physically, it is viewed as more humane.

Unjust verdicts towards certain parties including DS

Just like any government administration, CTA has some bad guys that no doubt work with “skewed” intention.  But there are some good guys as well that work in CTA. 

My point is, CTA is just the same as any government administration in the world and they evolve with time.  So I am not really convinced that should CTA wants to regain Tibet, it is to further torture his people.  In addition, when HHDL still has his political power, he has mentioned that he is not interested in gaining independence from the Chinese, just autonomy.

Ensapa

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2012, 07:57:29 AM »
If we want to dig up history on feudalistic Tibet, there is a lot to talk about and the list goes on. However, there is little that will happen if we continue to just demonize CTA. Every country have a similar history. So, what's the point in digging up history when it does so little to serve the point of lifting the ban?

I think it is pointless and everyone already know that Tibet before the Chinese invasion was corrupt, backwards and cruel to her own people. But that was the past and we can do much to encourage the new leaders of CTA that things can be different. A new secular government with secular policies that will finally look after the welfare of the people.

I think CTA could very well really take control of the running of the state and ensure that only secular affairs are managed. Hence, there is no room for religious policies like the ban. So, in that way, there's no need to demonize CTA because that will embolden them to do anything. The time has come for CTA to take on the reins of the government and decide the future of the CTA. I believe the Dalai Lama retired from his office for a reason and that should be to put the power back into the people's hands.

everyone knows except for the supports of the CTA and also CTA themselves on this matter. They always try to whitewash their history and deny their wrongdoings. By doing so, they dont learn from their mistakes and continue to repeat them, as if they were entitled to. China got strong because they learnt from their history, and so did the english. They learn not to repeat the same mistakes and not to repeat tragedies. That way there will be less suffering in the long run. Governments are allowed to make mistakes, but they should not repeat them or whitewash their history. For example, when Japan tried to whitewash their history with China, that they did not kill anyone in China, China was very angry and demanded an apology for the Japanese, because they tried to distort the truth to make themselves look good and not taking responsibility of their actions.

I dont feel it is pointless because there are still so many people that do not know about the truth behind CTA. CTA and many naive westerners want to believe that Tibet was an utopia of Buddhism before the invasion and that the Tibetans were peaceful people when it is not the truth. This will cause people to support the CTA on everything based on falsehood, including the ban on Dorje Shugden which they will find some twisted way of trying to justify, and possibly any more destructive policies that the CTA might come out with over time. When people are aware of what the CTA did (minus the really wild and blown out of proportion stories that accompany them), they will be more wary and they will question the CTA and investigate more. The CTA will then either have to change their polices and be more vigilant in their actions, or lose the support of the world for their cause.

Michaela, I have read the same punishments implemented in other countries before, but what we are talking about here is Tibet and Tibet is a Buddhist country. they should be advocating ways to reform criminals instead of permanently disfiguring them even from the start. Tibet has influences from Persia, hence the similarities in the laws used, and their propensity for Dzi beads (which are a persian creation) but it does not mean that rules cannot be changes as more Dharma is absorbed by the country. In Buddhism, the Buddha taught that everyone and everything can change, they just need to be given an opportunity. By maiming or blinding the criminals, it's like giving a middle finger to this teaching of the Buddha in favor of cultural trends that should have been changed and modified. Aslo carried over from the feudal times to the recent times by the CTA is the trend where the government's laws are final and nobody can challenge them and this is shown by the ban. Do we want such a government to rule tibet again? If the Dharma protectors allow this, it would be like creating hell on earth as many people will suffer as a result of their actions.

We need to remind CTA of their past, and remind their supporters and people of the present of their track record, and that they do not seem to be keen to change so that people are aware that the ban is more or less a political move and a mistake.

michaela

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 08:32:56 AM »
We need to remind CTA of their past, and remind their supporters and people of the present of their track record, and that they do not seem to be keen to change so that people are aware that the ban is more or less a political move and a mistake.

Dear Ensapa

HHDL implemented the ban.  If this is a political move, how is this ban benefiting HHDL politically?

If enforcing the Ban is a political move for CTA in the first place, how do they benefit CTA standing.  They best that they get is just appearing to be politically correct, and in this case, that does not even translated as positive. 






Aurore

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2012, 08:58:18 PM »
This is all indeed shocking. It got me thinking about the karma accumulated by CTA from the past. Let's not even start with all the eye gouging and hand chopping punishments. To ban lamas from reincarnating and benefitting others (more like being recognized because Boddhisattvas cannot stop reincarnating), and seizing their estates is extremely heavy negative karma for the government. It is not surprising Tibet lost their country China. It is due to their own negative karmas, don't blame it on DS!

Point 35 in The Wheel of Sharp Weapons, it states:
When we lack all control over where we must travel
And always must wander like waifs with no home,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have disturbed holy Gurus and others
And forced them to move from their homes or their seats;
Hereafter let's never cause others disturbance
By evicting them cruelly from where they reside.

Ensapa

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Re: the dark side of Ganden Phodrang
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2012, 11:03:47 AM »
If we want to dig up history on feudalistic Tibet, there is a lot to talk about and the list goes on. However, there is little that will happen if we continue to just demonize CTA. Every country have a similar history. So, what's the point in digging up history when it does so little to serve the point of lifting the ban?

I think it is pointless and everyone already know that Tibet before the Chinese invasion was corrupt, backwards and cruel to her own people. But that was the past and we can do much to encourage the new leaders of CTA that things can be different. A new secular government with secular policies that will finally look after the welfare of the people.

I think CTA could very well really take control of the running of the state and ensure that only secular affairs are managed. Hence, there is no room for religious policies like the ban. So, in that way, there's no need to demonize CTA because that will embolden them to do anything. The time has come for CTA to take on the reins of the government and decide the future of the CTA. I believe the Dalai Lama retired from his office for a reason and that should be to put the power back into the people's hands.

Every country has a similar history, but the diference is that they actually learn from their history and not repeat it while the CTA does not learn from their history and attempt to whitewash everything just so that they can mislead people into thinking that they are good. The whole point of bringing up their past  history is more or less so that they can learn from it and improve themselves from there. Their previous bans on all the previous masters led them nowhere and therefore they should really remedy the actions that they have done by unbanning all of them, starting with Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen. Then they will be one step further to getting Tibet back as they would have partially purified the karma that caused them to lose Tibet in the first place. When that is purified, their goals of regaining Tibet is slightly nearer to reality. The Chinese who is aware of Tibet's history will be able to know and observe if they learnt from their history, and if they did, China will view them as equals and work out a plan with them to administer Tibet.

It does help in a way because CTA should learn from their past that banning enlightened beings come with consequences that they might not be able to take or that might cause difficulties for them. They should just own up to it and say "sorry, we're wrong to ban your incarnations" and not ban any more incarnations or practices in the future because 1) it is futile as the lamas keep returning despite their ban  such as Taranatha's incarnation 2) the practices keep returning despite the ban such as Jonang school and 3) they basically create a lot of negativity for themselves. For CTA to stop digging their own hole, they should just own up and be sorry for what they did and they need to start by facing what they did in the past and resolve to never do it again. It is that simple. Also, knowing their history will prevent them from deceiving others, thus cutting down their negative karma.

these are the reasons why I feel CTA should just stand up and face their past for a very simple reason: so that they can improve.