If Shugden supporters claims are genuine, why is it necessary for the ISC to fabricate such lies?
In August 2015, International Shugden Community [ISC] activists circulated an horrific image of a hand with all five digits severed. Their internet meme was accompanied by the following text:
[the image, too gruesome to feature here, appeared on Twitter at Shugden Library (@ShugdenLibrary)]
“In Lhasa, Tibet, the house of a family of well-known Dorje Shugden practitioners is attacked by four Tibetans wearing masks and claiming to be the Dalai Lama’s messengers. The only person in the house at that time is their 20 year old son, who is tortured by having his fingers cut off. He is threatened that next time they will cut his hands off and then they will cut his head off if his family doesn’t listen to the Dalai Lama.”
Shocked by this ‘new revelation’, it was decided to investigate.
A reverse image search yielded only two results, both of which pertained to Shugden Community members’ sites. A text search revealed the written content actually related to an incident said to have taken place in July ’96 and was replicated on several sites, once again all run by Shugden Community members. No independent sites carried the story, nor was there any reference to the supposed incident in the national or international press. Perhaps most notably, Chinese State media agency Xinhua featured no references whatsoever, a somewhat surprising absence considering the Chinese government’s sworn intent, the vilification of the Dalai Lama via the Shugden issue at every given opportunity. Considering that Lhasa has for many years been one of the most heavily policed capitals on the planet, with more closed circuit cameras per capita than anywhere else on the planet, surprise at the complete absence of ANY independent corroboration only increased.
Determined to establish the veracity or otherwise of the source, it was decided to examine more of the images on the site. The first of these, below, concerned an alleged arson attack on the home of a critic of the exiled Tibetan administration.
Once again, a text search found no corroborating references for the story, other than on ISC websites. The only, allegedly ‘independent confirmation’ came from a protester from a Tibetan Shugden group, who gave no source for his information, neither in the form of documentary evidence or press articles. Furthermore, no police record of the supposed incident could be found.
An image search, on the other hand, did reveal a source for the picture: it came from ‘House on Fire’, a 1986 Japanese film directed by Kinji Fukasaku.
To address concerns that this second anomaly might be an unfortunate coincidence, a third image was examined. This image contained a disturbing allegation that a young child had been sexually assaulted and the assault then covered up so as not to shame the Dalai Lama.
Once again, no independent corroboration of the story existed; conveniently, the caption explained that the story was suppressed so why would it be otherwise?
Nevertheless, a photographic referent for our image search did exist. Therein, those responsible for the meme’s production had seemingly shown great sensitivity by obscuring the faces of the apparent victim and her friends.
Once again however, the image search revealed the photograph had absolutely nothing to do with the allegations it supposedly supported and was in fact from a publicity film for the Tibetan Children’s Village charity [n.b. in the original picture, the children’s faces had not been artificially obscured-the only plausible reason for obscuring these as to give the impression that the victim’s identity was being protected]
Elsewhere, the ISC propagandist website ‘Dalai Lama News’ attempted to pass off the images below as evidence of violence against Shugden devotees.
The images were accompanied by the claim that:
“The images below show Dorje Shugden practitioners who have been attacked because of their religious beliefs.”
In fact, the two people in the pictures were victims in a brutal and unprovoked attack on a Mr. Phurbu Sithar and his wife [1, 2, 3]; Mr Sithar was the representative of the Tibetan government in exile at the Deckyi Larso settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India. The two had been attacked after Mr Sithar had spoken in favor of the Dalai Lama’s stance on Shugden.
An investigation into the incident revealed the assault was perpetrated by monks of the Sera Pomra Khangtsen, well known for its devotion to Shugden. Within a few hours of Dalai Lama News becoming aware of the oversight, the images and commentary unceremoniously disappeared. The deception can still be traced via cached images of the site.
Elsewhere, in order to prove that Shugden monks had been made homeless and destitute, the ISC propaganda machine used footage of young Burmese, Theravadin monks on their traditional begging rounds [1 min 44 sec forward]
The differences between Burmese and Tibetan monastic robes are imperceptible to those uninformed, though blindingly obvious to the trained eye.
All of these deceptions are clearly deliberate; the fact that these ‘mistakes’ occur repeatedly and are widespread would seem to be a definite indication of the intent to deceive. These deceptions were not difficult to detect; the subjects were randomly chosen and were easily apparent soon after it was decided to investigate the possibility that the NKT/ISC might be deliberately fabricating bogus claims to bolster support for their cause.
The question arises however as to who these lies are aimed at. One component of the target audience would clearly be ‘outsiders’; the general public and press. That the NKT/ISC are prepared to lie so repeatedly and so deliberately to these is indeed disturbing.
However, it is the repeated, deliberate deception of their main target audience, ISC supporters, that is truly disturbing. Why? Because it raises important questions about the validity of their claims overall, as well as of how those intent on mobilizing support see their potential supporters.
If Shugden supporters claims are genuine, why is it necessary for the ISC to fabricate such lies? If the ISC’s claims can so easily be demonstrated to be false, what about the veracity of their other claims? Finally, if the ISC are so ready and willing to lie to their supporters, many of whom sincerely believe they are engaged in a virtuous battle for the human rights of Shugden practitioners, what does this tell us about how ISC seniors really see their own demonstrators?