Recently, pro-Shugden activists have provided journalists with a press pack featuring signs and letters purportedly restricting the right of access of Shugden supporters to essential services and religious buildings. These are portrayed as evidence of restrictions of their human rights and religious freedoms imposed by the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration. At the same time, websites and Facebook pages of those campaigning to expose the misinformation underpinning the Dolgyal Shugden worshippers campaign have been bombarded with photos of a US consular official, “Vice Consul” Mr Deming, photographing notices limiting Shugden worshippers access to certain buildings.
The U.S Vice Consul to India [Mr] Deming seems to be taking it very seriously, he’s been visiting Jangtse Monastery today to see for himself the discrimination, you don”t need to take our word for it, the photos of him being shown all the discriminatory signs outside monasteries, shops and clinics are all over FB. He can be seen taking photos of the signs himself. Wonderful development!
However, as is often the case in the current context, all is not what it seems.
First, this gives the mistaken impression that Mr Deming, the gentleman featured in the photographs, is “US Vice Consul to India”. However, though he is certainly an employee of the US Consulate in Chennai, he is certainly not “Vice Consul”. Rather, Mr Deming is a “consular officer”.
The next, deliberate deception is giving the impression that Mr Deming”s visit is part of a new US authorities investigation into alleged human rights abuses of Shugden worshippers in the exiled Tibetan community. In truth, he is certainly not “visiting Jangtse Monastery…. to see for himself the discrimination…being shown all the discriminatory signs outside monasteries, shops and clinics” as part of any such investigation. In reality, he is gathering evidence in response to Tibetans applying for US residency, claiming refugee status while citing “religious persecution” as their reason. Nowadays, many Shugden activists are seeking citizenship, particularly in the US, citing such institutional persecution as their primary reason for applying.
In fact, all of this bragging and deception might just have opened up a can of worms that Tibetan followers of Dolgyal applying for US residency on such grounds might wish had actually gone unmentioned.
For a start, none of the signs alluded to are a result of the Dalai Lama or Tibetan exiled Government”s instructions, indeed, both have spoken out against such clumsy vigilantism. All of these deplorable, though thankfully increasingly rare signs are erected either by NGOs, monastic authorities, or private individuals; all entirely autonomous entities acting of their own volition. In those few cases in the past where CTA sponsored bodies have attempted to impose restrictions, the CTA have acted to combat this, advising the perpetrators of their actions inappropriateness and reinforcing the rights of Shugden worshippers to equal access to services, both in writing and in statements to the Kashag, the exiled Tibetan “cabinet”[see below].
Now lets take a look at one of the signs, signs which would clearly be illegible to Mr Deming who neither reads nor even speaks Tibetan. We can only hope that the translators employed for this occasion were not the same Shugden devotees who accidentally translated the phrase “to advise against” as “ban”, when working on the Dalai Lama”s talks on Shugden in Tibetan, thus sparking another spurious “human rights” debate.
The sign in the glass case outside the monastery office behind Mr Deming states that Dolgyal Shugden followers should not enter; the intention according to monastic authorities, is that people who worship Dolgyal Shugden should have their business taken care of by Dolgyal monasteries. Protestants telling Catholics to seek advice and assistance from the Catholic Church, and non-Shugden worshippers telling Shugden worshippers to go to Shugden monasteries are certainly not crimes against humanity. Monastic authorities arrived at the decision to erect these signs as a result of a democratic monastic referendum, conducted among the entire monastic population, encompassing both pro and anti Shugden monastics.
If Mr Deming is planning to take the India-based monastic authorities to task on this issue, he may have a difficult task ahead of him. In actuality, many of present-day India”s own Hindu temples do not allow non-Hindus to enter, this choice being based on an entirely legal ROAR (right of admissions refusal) policy in place across that land. Recently, a long-time Western “swami” of the Hare Krishna movement based in India, was refused entry to the Jaganattha temple in Puri due to this ROAR law. ISKCON sued on his behalf but the claim was rejected and the law stands.
Thus, rather than being an “abuse of human rights” as Shugden devotees would have us believe, the freedom of choice to refuse admission of individuals of differing beliefs to religious buildings is a right enshrined in Indian law. So, if the consular officer is planning to give the Tibetans a hard time on this, he is going to have to give the Indian Government a hard time too. Maybe after that, the US Government can turn their attention to New Kadampa Shugden centers worldwide, where those who have not received initiations into certain deity practices, are not permitted to enter religious ceremonies associated with that deity.
In reality of course, this will never happen. Why? Because the fact of the matter is that from the minarets of Mecca to the synagogues of Cincinatti, the denial of free and open access to religious buildings to members of other faiths and non-believers is the way it is and the way it always has been. Far from being a brutal withdrawal of a fundamental human right, it is a simple fact of life across many of the major religious traditions extant in the world today.
So, there is no “ban” [as any Tibetan speaker who has not fallen foul of ISC/WSS mistranslations knows], there are no state -sponsored restrictions on Shugden worshippers [those which exist do so as the result of individuals” decisions and have been repeatedly condemned by both the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan administration], and the right to restrict access to religious buildings is ubiquitous and as old as the hills.
What then could be the real reasons why Tibetan Shugden followers are prepared to deceive others about the reality of their supposedly “desperate” situation, using such signs as their evidence?
Sadly, like the crocodile tears of the Swiss-based Tibetan woman [in this YouTube], who disingenuously claims her Dharamsala, India-based sister [who coincidentally, she tells us “keeps phoning me, saying she wants to come to Switzerland”] is “starving” because no Tibetans there will sell her food while in reality, most of the shopkeepers in Dharamsala are Indians who don”t care about Shugden worship and will sell food to anyone, it is clear that even among generally moral Tibetans, there are a minority who consider their own personal benefit of more importance than the cause of Tibetan unity and who will do anything to achieve it.
While many Tibetans applications for asylum and overseas citizenship are certainly based on genuine reasons, it is clear that there are some willing to abandon their moral compass and indulge in deception, even outright lying for the sake of their own personal gain. And what could be more tempting and “justifiable” than a one-way ticket out of Third World poverty to the proverbial “land of milk and honey”?
In summary, it seems that for some Tibetans this supposed “human rights” issue is nothing more than a ploy in an emigration scheme. Claiming that these signs, none of which are there at the behest of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan Administration, are evidence of a state-sponsored campaign to discriminate against Shugden worshippers, or a witch hunt ordered by the Dalai Lama, is simply lying for the purposes of personal gain, especially since both the CTA and His Holiness have condemned these actions publicly.
The sooner humanitarian governments across the world realize this, the sooner they can put a stop to these unscrupulous Tibetans using the Shugden conflict as a ploy to trick immigration authorities into granting them asylum for reasons which, in truth, are all about personal profit. More importantly, the sooner they can halt the creeping transformation of their countries into enclaves for a group one eminent American scholar described as “the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism”, the better.