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Religious Freedom
- The Truth Face of Tibetan Government-in-exile

16 April 2008


"Religious prosecution", "Human rights violation", "Demand religious freedom". If you heard these words from a Tibetan in exile, you would think they're talking about P.R.C. Can you imagine they may refer to the Tibetan government in exile?

In December of 1996, a protest was held in India against a newly issued ban of worshipping "Dorje Shugden" (a.k.a Dholgyal), a respected religious deity Tibetans have been worshiped for 300 years. The ban was issued by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He regarded the worshipping of such deity harmed the Tibetan cause and his personal health. Anonymous threats were spread against anyone who obeys his directness [1]. The Assembly of Tibetan people's Deputies also officially instructed the Shugden worshipper to make "independent" decision after they listened to the teaching of His Holiness and cleared the doubts in their minds (Jun. 1996).

The statues of Dorje Shugden were removed from temples and destroyed. A forced signature event was also held to make people promise to stop the Shugden worship [2]. Those who refused to sign lived their life in great fears. Their names and address and their Children's names and schools were posted in public. People threw stones at their houses. Sometimes their houses got burned. They were treated as outcasts in their communities. Swiss public TV filmed a documentary about the Shugden conflict in 1998 [1]. An interviewed old Lama who expressed his discontent was later attacked by a knife and barely survived. The response from Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile was negative. "Some people have been spreading lies that individuals were harassed and their objects of worship seized for propitiating Shugden, and that government officials were expelled from job, etc. Not a single of these allegations were found to be true"[3]. When Dalai Lama was asked about the violence during an interview by Swiss public TV [1], he insisted that those did not happen, even so after the interviewer told him that he had seen it with his own eyes.

In the Tibetan in exile community in India, it's against the law to object Dalai Lama's teaching and decision [1]. And it's been repeatedly told that practicing Shugden worship would endanger His Holiness's life. Some Shugden activists were declared murderers and had to go exile again. The exiled Shugden activists often found supports in the West. They have also established their own organization to demand their right of religious freedom. The Tibetan government in exile declared that those organizations are funded and supported by the Chinese authority.

The Tibetan government in exile insisted that they didn't violated religious freedom, since religious freedom does not include the freedom of choosing which deity to worship.

On Feb 13 2008, Tibetan Government in exile tried to resolve the conflict once and for all with a vote, which was taken in 14 monasteries of Gelug establishments. Those who do not want to share spiritual and material relation with Dorje Shugden followers would pick the yellow colored vote-stick. Those who continue Dholgyal worship and who want to share spiritual and material relation with them need explanation of picking the red colored vote-stick. Coincidently, yellow is the color of Tibetan Lamaism (yellow hat religion) and red is usually regarded as the color for the communist China.

Ironically, when Dalai Lama fled China in 1959, it was Dorje Shugden's oracle that told him to run. The specific escaping routes were also told by the oracle [1]. Along the routes chosen by Dorje Shugden, U.S. military and CIA dropped numerous supplies, otherwise he and his body guards could not survive. Some of his body guard were confused after they learned Dorje Shugden was indeed a demon and was trying to harm Dalai Lama's life.

The government has been led by Dalai Lama since 1963. The deputies can be elected but the Dalai Lama is forever the highest government official. Not even a single bill has been passed against Dalai Lama and, according to an interviewed official, never will be. More on that, the passed billed has to be approved by Dalai Lama before it's effective. It's unimaginable how will Dalai Lama and his government bring the Shugden conflicts from a small Indian village of 110,000 Tibetans, to a 2400,000 square kilometers land of 6 million Tibetans.

[1]The documentary filmed by Swiss public TV in 1998
[2]An open letter to Dalai Lama
[3]Tibetan Parliament in Exile's Resolution of June 1996

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