During his visits to Europe and the US in early 2014, the Dalai Lama’s supporters encountered a small group of Tibetans alongside NKT Shugden protesters at each venue. This created the mistaken impression that support for the Shugden protesters was growing among the exiled Tibetan community; the reality was that this was the same group of Tibetans appearing at each venue, an extension of a technique already employed by Western Shugden devotees to bolster the image of widespread grassroots support.
In response to this, the Tibetan Government decided to issue a list identifying each member of the core group of approximately 25 Tibetans, along with details of the different teachings they had attended and, in several cases, their links to the the Chinese authorities in Beijing.
Despite the fact that the NKT had themselves published a list of their critics, including details of their affiliations and, in one case a person’s heart-wrenching and very personal psychiatric history, the release of the Government list was immediately portrayed as a “hit list” and the publishers as fascists.
The Dalai Lama was blamed directly for the Government list, despite his having renounced all political responsibilities some years earlier. This decision to renounce his political responsibilities was one made, in part, to counter allegations of his “mixing politics with religion”, a central motif of the NKT’s critical campaign against His Holiness.
Nevertheless, despite this decision, the NKT immediately blamed the Dalai Lama for the Government list, warning of dire international political consequences for him if any on the list should come to any harm; despite one piece of Shugden propaganda disingenuously claiming that one person on the list had been murdered, none actually have, nor have any Shugden devotees ever suffered such a fate for the sake of their beliefs.
The Dalai Lama was left with a predicament. If he did speak out against the list, he would be accused of tacitly maintaining control of Tibetan exile politics; if he did not, he would be portrayed as implicitly sanctioning the entirely independent, Government decision to publish – either possibility leaving him open to accusations of his involvement in Tibetan politics.