ISC/NKT Shugden protesters invariably claim there is “overwhelming evidence” Shugden worshipers are persecuted by the Dalai Lama and his followers and that human rights violations abound. However, in 1998, Amnesty International investigated their claims of religious persecution and found “insufficient evidence” (AI Doc), and in 2010, the Delhi High Court also dismissed the Shugden community’s claims of religious persecution. (http://delhihighcourt.nic.in/dhcqrydisp_o.asp?pn=59051&yr=2010)
On Shugden community websites many such deceptions and unsubstantiated claims are made. Yet investigation of these reveal that things have not changed significantly since Amnesty International and the Indian High Courts determinations. There is certainly not “overwhelming evidence” of religious persecution. Indeed, there is a compelling lack of credible, substantial evidence supporting any of the protesters’ claims of serious persecution by the Dalai Lama: no Indian media reports, police reports or impartial reports of any kind. What ‘evidence’ is provided usually takes the form of either uncorroborated personal testimonials, copies of self regulatory NGO documents or hand-written signs produced by over zealous Tibetans, acting of their own volition. Both the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration have spoken against such vigilantism.
The International Shugden Community (ISC) produces videos on Youtube and their own website purposefully similar to the independent news channel, the BBC’s reports, featuring a red, circling globe, urgent music and ‘Breaking News’ or ‘NEWS’ emblazoned across the screen. On these videos, various ploys are used to deceive and mislead viewers. One key tactic they employ is to present a video with the Dalai Lama or another Tibetan speaker, then place on screen a distorting and mistranslated subtitle in English, changing the Tibetan word for “discourage” to the English one for “ban,” for instance.
A brief appraisal of the ISC website has thus far revealed over 30 deceptive statements and at least 16 unsubstantiated claims. Some of these deceptions are glaring, while others are fragments which combine to generate alarming, inflammatory allegations.
Many of the claims of persecution relate to events that allegedly took place ten or twenty years ago in hard-to-reach, restricted areas of India and which are therefore extremely difficult to verify. Despite this, clear deceptions can nonetheless be found, evident due to a lack of basic care in their reporting.
Generally speaking, when statements from the Dalai Lama appear in their video reports, these are frequently short, misleading, and often mistranslated snippets that are taken totally out of context and selectively quoted.
Specific examples of the many deceptions from the ISC website are:
A. In order to prove that Shugden monks were made homeless and destitute in one “News” video, footage of young Burmese, Theravadin monks on their traditional begging rounds was inserted-an intentional deception.
B. In another video, a Tibetan woman weeps as she tells of her sister being unable to obtain food in Dharamsala, India because Tibetans refuse to sell food to Shugden worshippers. In fact, Indians own most of the food stalls in Dharamsala, profit-oriented businessfolk who care little or nothing about Tibetan controversies. This video is clearly deceptive.
C. In several videos, the story is told of hundreds of Shugden monks being rendered “homeless” because of their being expelled from their monasteries. The claim is made that they have been forced to live in “slums” and “safe houses.”
However, these monks were well provided with land and buildings in order to resume their choice of religious practice. Readily available evidence demonstrates they were given their fair share of monastic assets, if not more, and are currently thriving. These claims are simply false.
For further evidence demonstrating the falsity of this allegation:
This false claim of homelessness is a recurrent favorite of the Shugden community.
D. Elsewhere, two videos speak of the murder of a political activist, Gungthang Tsultrim, claiming this was the result of his inclusion on a government ‘hit list’. The list, actually an internal document listing the names of prominent Shugden devotees, which mistakenly made its way into the public domain, was published in 1997. Gungthang Tsultrim, who most certainly was not a Shugden devotee and did not appear on the list, died 21 years earlier, in 1976.
In truth, not a single Shugden devotee has died because of their religious beliefs.On the other hand, the Yellow Book, by Shugden lama Zimey Losang Palden, proudly attributes the deaths of hundreds of innocents to the ‘enlightened activity’ of Dolgyal Shugden.
E. The first of the above two videos also makes reference to Shugden worshippers being mistreated in various ways some twenty years ago, including having their homes firebombed or ransacked. As ever, none of these claims is substantiated by media articles, hospital records or police reports. The allegations are ‘substantiated’ solely by internal documents of the Shugden Community itself.
F. In another video, they claim that Shugden worshipers are not granted Indian citizenship on arrival from Tibet because they are Shugden worshipers. In fact, no Tibetan is granted Indian citizenship upon arrival from Tibet. This then, is an outright lie.
G. Other videos show obscure pictures of wounds on the faces and hands of monks, purportedly indicating attacks by non-Shugden Buddhists. Yet again, no media or police reports are provided to substantiate the claims. No evidence appears providing details of these attacks and they therefore cannot be verified.
Is the Dalai Lama “False”?
Recently the Shugden community published yet another anonymously authored diatribe against the Dalai Lama, entitled ‘False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History’. In this, they claim that the Dalai Lama is secretly a Muslim born to Muslim parents, in a Muslim village—and that he is therefore a “false Dalai Lama,” falsely recognized after a mysterious conspiracy by his Regent. They call him the “Saffron-Robed Muslim.” The ‘source’ these anonymous authors cite for these claims is an unlocatable work by another anonymous author.
Historical evidence demonstrates that the Dalai Lama was born into a village that had been taken over by a Chinese (Muslim)warlord. There were a few Muslim families in this village, but the majority were Buddhist. The Dalai Lama’s family was clearly Buddhist; indeed, his elder brother had already been recognized as a high incarnate Buddhist lama several years before the Dalai Lama’s birth.
The Shugden Community claims that the Dalai Lama is deceiving the world by not revealing his secret Muslim identity. They hold up banners in their protests showing the Dalai Lama in a Muslim ‘taqiyah’ (a prayer cap). This misuse of the term ‘Muslim’, as an insult, is a clear example of the Islamophobia the Dalai Lama continues to work hard to combat.
This then is the reason protesters hold placards calling the Dalai Lama ‘false’, and why they chant repeatedly, “False Dalai Lama, stop lying…” Their actions are based entirely on an anonymous report within an unlocatable text, penned by an anonymous author.
Is the Dalai Lama “Lying”?
1. The Shugden community frequently changes its mind about exactly why the Dalai Lama is “lying”. There are four separate, extensive videos purporting to explain why the Dalai Lama is lying on the ISC website, each of which contains a number of deceptions.
2. One video, entitled ‘The Dalai Lama Lies About Advice From His Teacher’, briefly pictures a statement from the Dalai Lama’s own website. While the viewer struggles to read this, the narrator reads for them, deceptively replacing the key word “support” with “encourage”, thus changing totally the whole meaning of the statement. The rest of the video then repeats the claim that the Dalai Lama is lying because he used the word “encourage”.
3. Another Youtube video, entitled ‘A Question for the Dalai Lama’ , filmed at his Hamburg Talk, Aug. 24, 2014, shows a brief clip from a teaching of the Dalai Lama. In this, a protester shouts out a question to the Dalai Lama while he is answering a question, having at first interrupted him by shouting “Stop lying”.
The Dalai Lama pauses, then proceeds to address the accusation of lying, whereupon the protester interrupts again and continues to shout “stop lying, stop lying Dalai Lama…” until he is led out by security. This rather infantile demonstration would be considered shameful by many and is certainly not helpful to the protesters’ supposed cause. Nevertheless, the Shugden Community exhibits pride in the display, frowned upon by all who were present and the majority who view it, by publishing it on Youtube.
The accompanying text to the video, yet another example of deception since the Dalai Lama clearly tries to answer the question, even interceding on the protester’s behalf when others try to silence him, states, “The False Dalai Lama…evades the question…….”
While the eye catching allegations of lying perhaps look good on a placard and certainly help to rally troops for the cause, It is clear from the ISC’s own publications that these issues can better be described as disagreements over a complex issue, disagreements well beyond the scope of any pamphlet, or any secular debate, to address.
Essentially most of the allegations of the Shugden community protesters are based on conspiracy theories which rely on their belief in the existence of a Dalai Lama no one can see, a “shadow Dalai Lama” complete with evil agendas and purposes. Examples from the above mentioned ISC publication which demonstrate such views read:
“…from a spiritual point of view there is no one who is more evil than this false Dalai Lama. We sincerely wish for the doctrine of Je Tsongkhapa to be free from being harmed by this enemy.” (p. 3) and,“Although Lhamo Dondrub [the Dalai Lama] is a Muslim, throughout his life he has maintained the pretense of being a Buddhist holy being, giving Buddhist teachings that he stole from his root Guru Trijang Rinpoche. In this way he has cheated people throughout the world.” (p. 13)
Statements such as these, which abound in ISC publications and video releases, certainly make one wonder as to the purpose and validity of these protests. For, while their intention is to portray a sane, reasonable face to the world, a calm complaint of religious persecution and human rights violations, their writings convey an agenda that is dishonest, inflammatory and extremist.