Saturday, August 23, 2008

Demonstrations against the Dalai Lama in Nantes, France

Partying for Freedom in Nantes : A first hand account of three days of demonstrations against the Dalai Lama's ban of Dorje Shugden

I've just got back from a tiring but incredibly rewarding three days in Nantes. We were demonstrating outside the Zenith Metropole concert hall where the Dalai Lama was giving talks. I heard that they only allow two demonstrations per year at this venue, so we were fortunate.

The demonstrations began on the morning of the first day with a march at La Baulle, a local beach resort. 400 demonstrators took part and we were cheered and clapped by many locals and holiday makers who had taken advantage of a French national holiday to have a long weekend. We marched and chanted along the beachfront for an hour before boarding our coaches and heading off to the main demonstration site.

The weather was bright and sunny to match the mood of the 700 demonstrators, who were from Mexico, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, India, France, Holland, Ireland, UK and the USA. I'm constantly inspired by the dedication and determination shown by WSS demonstrators who travel long distances because they care so much about the future of Je Tsongkhapa's tradition and are totally determined to stop the Dalai Lama from destroying it.

We were delighted to be joined by a group of Tibetan Shugden practitioners, including Geshes and monks who had been expelled from their monasteries when Dorje Shugden practice was first banned in 1996. Along with many placards, the Tibetan flag flew over our enclosure once again.

Over the course of the three days, many brochures were given out and the situation explained to an often incredulous public. They had come to see an iconic man of peace, but when some heard they were actually attending the talks of a hypocritical and divisive religious dictator, they left.

The demonstrations get better and better and we are able to chant for longer. On the first day, cries of 'Dalai-Lama, menteur!' (Dalai Lama, liar!) and 'Dalai-Lama donne la libert̩ religieuse' (Dalai Lama, give religious freedom) were accompanied by the sound of clapping and water bottles being bashed together as impromptu percussion instruments that gave a light and joyful air to the proceedings Рsurely no one would think that we were angry as we all looked to be having such a good time? It was one big rave for religious freedom!

On the second day, drums and bongos appeared, giving a definite Latin feel to our chanted requests. Many demonstrators were dancing to the infectious rhythms and looked a lot happier than anyone who was attending the Dalai Lama's teachings ;-) Our chants went on for well over an hour at a time and at no time did anyone look tired or bored as we were jointly energised by our dedication to our cause and the party atmosphere that crackled through the crowd like high voltage electricity.

Unfortunately we didn't get close to the Dalai Lama as we had in Oxford, but each day as he arrived and departed from the venue he was greeted with 700 people simultaneously bellowing 'menteur!....manteur!', rolling like thunder across the arena.

However, on the final departure on Day Three, circumstances led to a golden opportunity. Access to the venue was obtained by crossing a footbridge over a main road, and each day the Gendarmes would close it off prior to the DL's departure, not allowing anyone to cross it, presumably to prevent someone from dropping something onto his car as it sped underneath. On that final day, many Shugden supporters arrived back late from the cafe on the other side of the road and were prevented from crossing the bridge. They lined the road on one side and the rest of us lined the road on the other. When the DL left, instead of driving him away from us as they had the day before, his motorcade came straight between the two lines of Shugdenites! He was greeted with exuberant roars of 'menteur!' - from both sides of the road this time! He can have been in no doubt after his three days in front of an adoring French public what we, who know of his dishonesty, thought of him.

Well done everyone; see you in Basel!

Posted courtesy of Lineage Holder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Vajrapani:

I so enjoyed the demonstrations in Nantes, this experience really immensely deepened my faith in this beautiful lineage. On the other hand it was quite outrageous, shameful, and shocking to witness the DLs follower's response to our peaceful demonstration. It was in many ways to say the least very 'un-Buddhist'! From what I saw and heard from the DLs followers there made me even more determined to do everything possible to help uphold this pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa.

Even the Chief of Police at the site said how he loved our good example, and that he had never before experienced such wonderful, well-behaved, and joyful demonstration. He wanted one of our placards as souvenir...