Monday, September 15, 2008

Part Two: TV documentary by France 24: The Dalai Lama's Demons

Recently, France 24 sent journalists to India to investigate the claims of religious persecution by Dorje Shugden practitioners at the hands of the Dalai Lama and his supporters. This is what they found. Here we continue with Part Two of comments on this report. Part One can be found here.

Clarification of inaccuracies within the report

While, generally speaking, the report documents well the persecution against Dorje Shugden practitioners, there are nonetheless a few points that require clarification.

1.      Dorje Shugden practitioners are Chinese collaborators.  The inferences from the report range from Dorje Shugden practitioners are appreciative of the Chinese contribution to Tibet, through to they are receiving funding from the Chinese, through to they are outright collaborators with the Chinese.  This can be clarified as follows:

a.      There is no evidence whatsoever linking Dorje Shugden practitioners with the Chinese.  This is just a baseless allegation repeated again and again.  A lie repeated frequently does not become an actual truth, but it can become popular assumption, or at least enough of a rumour that people begin to doubt.  A good example is the often-repeated accusation that Barack Obama is a Muslim. 

b.      The only evidence that has been produced to 'prove' that Dorje Shugden practitioners are working for the Chinese is a couple of pictures of Dorje Shugden supporters meeting with Chinese officials.  Although there are far more pictures of the Dalai Lama with Chinese officials, nobody makes the absurd suggestion that such photos are a basis for saying he is working for the Chinese.  Anybody who has dealings in Tibet will need to have interaction with Chinese officials.  If there is 'no doubt' that Dorje Shugden practitioners are Chinese collaborators infiltrating the Tibetan community, then surely there must be more evidence than the picture of the back of somebody's head!  Surely this picture alone cannot be the basis of a systematic, 30 year campaign to completely eliminate 'even the memory of the name of Dorje Shugden' (the Dalai Lama's self-declared goal).

c.      During the Cultural Revolution, Mao would frequently declare that somebody was a Nationalist Spy or a Revisionist, and use this accusation as a means of discrediting any opposition.  It seems the Dalai Lama is holding himself true to his words that his persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners will be like the Cultural Revolution.

d.      Any time that Tibetan officials or defenders are pressed to provide evidence substantiating their claims, all they can do is say 'everybody knows this to be so'.  Everybody may believe this to be so due to 30 years of propaganda and slander by the Dalai Lama, but history is replete with examples of everybody in a population believing what the propaganda says (Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mao's China, Kim's North Korea, Castro's Cuba, etc.).  It is a fair question to ask 'what is the basis of this belief?'  'What is the evidence substantiating this claim?'  If this is to be the basis of widespread religious persecution, a betrayal of the very principles that the Tibetan community is supposed to stand for (Religious Freedom) then surely it is fair to ask for proof whether the accusation is true or not.

e.      Any independent investigation would reveal that Dorje Shugden practitioners are receiving no financial support whatsoever from the Chinese.  Any independent investigation would reveal that these accusations are nothing other than convenient government lies designed to demonize and discredit any opposition.

2.      Objection:  But what about the pro-Chinese comments of Kundaling Rinpoche.  Surely this shows that Dorje Shugden practitioners are Chinese sympathizers.

a.      It is possible that a few Dorje Shugden practitioners, such as the individual shown in the interview, may feel that Tibet is better off under the Chinese than under the leadership of the Dalai Lama.  But this is an extreme minority view.  Any independent investigation would reveal that the overwhelming majority of Dorje Shugden practitioners are just as committed to the Tibetan cause as any other Tibetan or Buddhist practitioner. 

b.      This statement confuses cause and effect.  The Dalai Lama supporters say that Dorje Shugden practitioners are Chinese supporters (cause), therefore they need to be restricted (effect).  But the causality is actually reversed.  The Dalai Lama is persecuting Dorje Shugden practitioners (cause), which then may cause a small minority of them to prefer the Chinese (effect).  Absent the persecution, there would be no basis for this preference.  It is the ban itself that is creating sympathy for the Chinese cause; therefore, to remove such sympathy from Tibetan society, a more appropriate solution would be to lift the ban.

c.      To be unambiguously clear, the pro-Chinese sentiments expressed by Kundaling Rinpoche are in no way reflective of the views of the Western Shugden Society or the overwhelming majority of Dorje Shugden practitioners.  The Western Shugden Society has no political opinions whatsoever.  Its only objective is the restoration of religious freedom for Dorje Shugden practitioners.  It takes no position whatsoever on Tibetan politics, other than how it impacts religious freedom.

d.      Besides, feeling that China has brought some benefit to Tibet does not make somebody a Chinese agent or infiltrator.  This is a political opinion.  Oppositional political opinions are illegal only in authoritarian regimes.  The life blood of democracy is free opposition.  Either the Dalai Lama wishes to make Tibetan society democratic, at which point he should embrace opposition; or he declares that any opposition is national treason, at which point he forfeits any claim at being a democrat. 

e.      Even if there do exist a few Dorje Shugden practitioners who are Chinese agents, this is in no way a justification for the 'collective punishment' of all Dorje Shugden practitioners.  Why should innocent people be punished for the views of some?  If action needs to be taken against some individuals, then it should be targeted against those individuals, not against an entire spiritual population.

3.      Dorje Shugden practitioners engage in violence, commit murder and instigate arson.  Therefore, they need to be stopped.

a.      This is another incidence of a lie repeated often enough becoming publicly held myth.  With such a serious accusation, it is fair to ask the question:  what is the evidence?  Once again, when pressed, Tibetan leaders will reply 'everybody knows this.'  This is not evidence -- this is simply proof that the Dalai Lama's smear campaign has been effective. 

b.      When the Indian police investigated the accused Dorje Shugden practitioners, no evidence whatsoever was found against them, and they were cleared of all charges against them.  This has not stopped the Tibetan Government in Exile to continue to repeat and publish the accusation at every possible juncture.  Read a detailed account of the police investigation

c.      Showing pictures of murdered people and saying it was Dorje Shugden practitioners who did it does not prove that Dorje Shugden practitioners committed such awful crimes, it merely proves that some people were murdered.  It says nothing at all about who did it.

d.      Such murders are tragic, and anybody who committed such actions is not Buddhist.  Such violence must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and all genuine Buddhists, Dorje Shugden practitioners included, share the moral outrage that such crimes are committed. 

e.      The crimes of a few misguided extremists cannot be a justification for punishing and demonizing an entire spiritual population.  Even if it was some extremist Dorje Shugden practitioners who committed these crimes (something we completely deny, this response is being made as a hypothetical), then it is those individuals who should be tracked down and punished, not the entire community of Dorje Shugden practitioners.  Surely any thinking person would not say all Muslims are murderers and should be punished just because some extremists engage in acts of terrorism.  The vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving, honourable people, and so should be treated with dignity, freedom and respect.  The whole world shares the moral outrage at the collective punishment of all Palestinians due to the actions of a few suicide bombers.  These are innocent people who should not be punished for crimes they did not commit.  In the same way, even if some extremist Dorje Shugden practitioners did commit such awful crimes (which, again, we deny), this is not a justification for punishing and persecuting innocent people.


In conclusion, we thank the producers and reporters of France 24 for having the courage and journalistic integrity to investigate the simple question of whether the Dalai Lama practices at home what he preaches abroad.  This documentary demonstrates clearly that there are serious violations of religious freedom and other human rights taking place against Dorje Shugden practitioners and the source of such persecution is none other than the Dalai Lama himself.  As the report accurately described:  there is 'spiritual apartheid' taking place and it is 'taboo' to question the Dalai Lama.

We invite France 24 to investigate further the points clarified in this response.  Baseless rumour and often-repeated allegation is not evidence.  If an investigation were to take place, it would clearly show that these allegations have no foundation in reality and are nothing other than a government-orchestrated effort to silence and discredit any opposition.  The truth can never be defeated.

Posted courtesy of Dspak.


shugdenpa said...

Thank you to the author of this write-up.

Key to all these debates is the presence or absence of evidence.

Oft-repeated lies do become a kind of evidence for people without other means of finding out what is true and what is not true - and media are no exceptions to this.

What is required is for the large independent companies like BBC - the most respected (still in this internet age) - to do the investigations.

Where is the TV producer/director with the persuasive power to get the funds to do this?

Are we in the WSS doing anything directly to draw their attention to this now that the demonstrations are temporarily halted?

Go_H_Di said...

You may want to read this article which is related to your blog:

adam said...

Dear Shugdenpa,

I spoke to someone who worked in the BBC for 14 years a couple of months ago. He said that he was personally doubtful that we would be able to attract the attention of the documentary makers as he didn't think it would be considered to be of sufficient "public interest." He said that he thought the most likely place where our voice might be heard would be within religious affairs programmes, including those on Radio stations such as Radio 4.

I passed on this advice.

Anonymous said...

Dorje Shugden practitioners are working toward freedom of religion and human rights; they have nothing to do with politics.

Worshipping Dorje Shugden in a temple or monastery is a pure religious thing.

All Dorje Shugden practitioners can have whatever political view they like to have; individual Dorje Shugden practitioner can be a collaborator with the Chinese, CIA of USA, Taliban of Afghanistan or KGB of Russia. Dorje Shugden practitioners have never told people what political view others should have. Dorje Shugden practitioners do not want to use religion to suppress political view of others.
Some Dorje Shugden supporters meeting with Chinese officials are their personal decision and it is a personal political right.

Dorje Shugden practitioners are working for the Chinese; it is also a political thing. Dorje Shugden practitioners can work for any political parties as the example mentioned above.

During the Cultural Revolution, Mao was always declared those who have opposite political thinking a Nationalist Spy and most of them were executed. Dalai Lama is doing the same thing to persecute Dorje Shugden practitioners but not being shot, instead making them suffer for not having shelter, food or work.

I am proud of HH Kundaling Rinpoche who is not afraid of being killed by his opponent, to openly speaking out his own political view.
Politically, I do not see him as pro-Chinese or unity of China but an individual speaking out his political view, hopefully others will do the same, careless whatever an individual pro-Beijing, Taliban, pro-west, pro-Russia, Iran etc. What I want to say is all of us should freely express our political view without fear of being persecuted especially our friends, Tibetan Buddhist in India.

In the future there will be more and more Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners evaluate between Dalai Lama and his followers, and the Beijing government to see which one gives more benefit to Tibet both politically and religiously.
Politically, I do not care what Tibetan cause Dalai Lama and his followers are talking about; I just want to have a pure religious place to worship. I do not want to have someone using his political authority to tell me what I should do with my religion. In other words I am not a political fan, but I will defend religious freedom and human rights.

Dalai Lama and his followers were, are and will be using political accusations to those not following their religious view. That is what they are capable of doing. As for religion they just want to use it as a tool to group everyone together for political purpose only. Wish all Dorje Shugden practitioners are not going to fall into this political trap. We should always pull their political accusations back into religious discussion.

The producers and reporters of France 24 was doing a good job for reporting what Dalai Lama practices at home and what he preaches abroad.
Hopefully in the near future, producers and reporters of France 24 will go to Tibet and other parts of China to interview former slaves before they pass away, to have the living prove of what the great 13th and 14th had done to Tibet before 1951. If anyone in Western Shugden Society knows France 24 personnel, please ask them to do so.