Friday, November 14, 2008

Human rights violations of Dorje Shugden practitioners

In her well researched book of the late 1990s, Exiled from Exile, Dr Ursula Bernis explains how the ban of Dorje Shugden and resulting persecution came about. An extract:

"In the summer of 1996, the Tibetan government in exile was accused of human rights violations by many Tibetans and some of their Western supporters. Since then most critics have been pressured into silence. Although two prominent human rights organizations expressed their concerns privately to the exile government, they refused to do so publicly for several reasons including that it could be seen as undermining the efforts of the Dalai Lama and the much larger and more serious issue of improving human rights in Tibet under Chinese control. I have seen one of the letters shown to me on condition I not disclose it and its source."
Here is one of many examples of the human rights violations Dr Bernis is talking about. For more first-hand interviews of people conducted at that time -- chronicling abuses that continue right through to the present day -- see Detailed reports of discrimination from inside India and elsewhere.

Extracts from An Interview with Jamphel Yeshe

"For all my life in exile, I have had the welfare of Tibetans and the idea of freedom constantly on my mind. As is well known in the Tibetan community, I worked towards that end in many different ways. All of this is destroyed now by the defamation campaign against me and my family. Because of death threats, I cannot go anywhere alone. I have to live in constant fear of losing my life, my family, my community, my access to religion, my livelihood, -- in short, everything that is dear to me and makes my life worth living....

Q: How has the ban affected you personally?
A: Since the ban we have endless inner turmoil, day and night. My situation is not exceptional. Each and every Tibetan Buddhist who is not able to relinquish faith in his or her Guru is in the same situation. Since the ban was imposed by the Tibetan exile government, families have broken down in every Tibetan community. Children broke relations with their parents and teachers and students have stopped speaking with each other.

These things happened because the Tibetan exile government started a signature campaign against our faith. We were asked to sign a list swearing that we will give up our reliance on the Dharmapala (Dorje Shugden) for this and all future lives. These lists were passed around very publically so everyone could see who signed and who not. When the government stopped the Women's Association and Youth Congress continued to push people to sign. Through the public nature of this campaign we have been completely marginalized. As the president of the Dorje Shugden Society, it was my duty to inform all Tibetans about the situation.

If a Tibetan speaks out, the automatic reaction now is to find out whether or not he relies on Dorje Shugden. If he does, then as a Tibetan I should not have any contact with him, according to the Tibetan exile government. Because of the atmosphere of distrust created this way, I have lost many of my former friends and business contacts. They all know I rely on Dorje Shugden. It has become a trend within the Tibetan exile community for people to declare openly that they want to go after me and finish me. Threats are also made openly against my colleagues in the Society and we experience this prevailing atmosphere of fear and distrust as a great burden.

I am a family man, I have three children. My oldest son is twelve years old, the second son nine years, and my daughter is six years old. The two older children were in school at the Tibetan Children's Village (TCV) in Dharamsala. I and my family received many explicit death threats. I found out through reliable sources -- I can't tell you who -- that an ex-military man and a member of the Tibetan parliament from Rajpur was discussing my two sons and their whereabouts in school in Dharamsala and my involvement with the Dorje Shugden Society with other Tibetans from a military background. Many Tibetans have joined the Indian army as part of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police after the CIA supported Khampa resistance ceased to be active. They have their own units, their own uniforms with their symbols but do not wear them publically.

He said they were well trained and that he and his colleagues would do whatever was necessary and whatever the Tibetan exile government wanted them to do against the Dorje Shugden people. For Tibetans who firmly believe that the Dalai Lama's life is threatened by those who rely on Dorje Shugden, these sentiments, and the willingness to act on them, are completely credible. So I took my children out of the school in Dharamsala and sent them to a safe place in another country. The perception was that anyone who wanted to attack us was free to do so.

The threat letters I received included statements like, "We will not spare your wife and children." One such letter says (in translation):
"To Tashi Dolma [Jamphel Yeshe's wife], from D.P. Gyatso. According to what I heard, your president husband, Chatreng Yeshe, has engaged in many plans regarding the Dalai Lama. Moreover, it is also said that you are going on a film shooting about the Dalai Lama, [Seven Years in Tibet] This being the case you are not permitted to participate in this filming. If you go, I will not spare you easily. We are youths of Darjeeling Voluntary Youth. If you don't believe it, you can come to Darjeeling anytime. Do you understand, slut. Secretary of Youth Group, Darjeeling, Kalimpong. P.S. Some of us are now in Delhi. You have to inform Chatreng Yeshi."
My wife and I received many threatening phone calls, and even our six year old daughter. When asked for a name, the answer was only "I am a man." Once, when they called, the child answered the telephone, as she often did, and the person on the other end told her, "There are fifteen of us here in Delhi and we will kill you and we will kill your father. We will destroy you." My daughter was very upset. She went to close all the doors and told me to stay inside. Early in the morning she would come to my bed and touch me. When I moved, she shouted, overjoyed, "Daddy is still alive."


Jimmy Marsden said...

Just found a very interesting blog article that seems pertinent:

Here is an extract:

So what’s that got to do with the Dorje Shugden controversy?

Well, let’s remove the Shugden scenario from its current political and religious context and examine it in stark academic terms. The fact is, once you’re familiar with examples of witch persecution around the world, the similarity with the kind of social ostracism and persecution that’s being visited on Shugden practictioners in the Exiled Tibetan Community in India, and indeed in the West too, becomes all too apparent.

Like ‘witches’, Shugdenites are accused of conducting harmful practices. In the language used, the nature of this harm is often vague, but it includes a general harm against other practitioners and against unwitting Shugden worshippers too. And just as with accusations against so-called ‘witches’, actual proof of this harm is rather scant. In fact, there is none. Not even the most ardent detractors of Shugden worship have been able to show any tangible evidence of the harmful and destructive nature of Shugden practice.

Of course, around the world, witches are usually accused of causing specific misfortunes - unexpected deaths, natural disasters, or unexplained accidents . Likewise, Shugden worshippers too are often accused of specific misfortunes, despite the fact that no visible link connects them. From cattle disease to harming the life of the Dalai Lama, a host of evil consequences have been attributed to this practice. Of course, the notorious Yellow Book is considered by some to be a comprehensive history of the kind of harm meted out by Shugden to wayward worshippers themselves. And no hard evidence exists to confirm any of it. At least, not the sort of evidence that would stand up to academic scrutiny. Not the sort of proof that would be entered as any kind of exhibit in a court of law.

This is a very important point to understand. Like ordinary witchcraft trials the world over, no evidence has been needed to confirm the guilt of Shugden worshippers in perpetuating what is considered a harmful practice . With witch persecution, the effectiveness of the accusation has never depended on actual or reliable evidence. The same is the case here. For the most part, the claim of harmful practice against Shugdenites is reliant on hearsay and hypothesis, and the same would be true at any witch trial. It is given authority by numerous lamas, including the Dalai Lama, just as once inquisitors and sometimes even the Pope lent weight and authority to allegations of witchcraft and heresy.

Jimmy Marsden said...

And here is a current example of irrational persecution, indeed murder, of supposed witches in Kenya:

Hasn't got that far in the Tibetan exile community, but some days it seems it is not far off. A Tibetan Shugden practitioner's house was fire-bombed recently, for example.

Thom said...

The Medievalist Mentality of the Dalia lama's cadre of backward inbred Inquisitionist pronouncements of Witch Hunters are simply stupid and outdated.
Observing the desperate measures of his TGIE will clearly reveal themselves as the sanctimonious hypocrites they are and serve.

Not since Reverene Cotton Mather's Salem Witch Trials collation of Grand Inquisitors has such absurd and trite accusations towards others been so pronounced to portray the lunacy that lies beneath the surface of these men in robes pretending to holy vessels.