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Debate on a Dharamsala report regarding demonstrations in Karze (Ganzi), Kham
Eighty Tibetan demonstrators jailed in Tibet
Department of Information and International Relations, Dharamsala, Nov 10
Confirming reports of a demonstration on 31 October in the eastern Tibetan area of Karze, sources from Tibet said the Chinese security personnel have so far detained some 80 demonstrators. The demonstration, joined by 3,000 local Tibetans, was to demand the release of spiritual teacher Geshe Sonam Phuntsok, his attendant Shotruk and Agya Tsering of Karze Monastery, who had been arrested on 24 October.
The Chinese authorities claimed that the arrest of the three Karze monks was linked to bombings and independence poster campaigns, which have rocked the Karze area in recent months. However, sources in Tibet believe that the arrest was sparked off by Karze Monastery's refusal to back supporters of the spirit known as Dorje Shugden, whose worship is discouraged by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The reports say that Karze Monastery snubbed an offer of gifts and invitation for dinner from a Shugden supporter, Thupten, who is a monk from Rabten Choeling Dharma Centre in Switzerland and frequent visitor to Karze. Thupten had apparently made offerings to the monks of Karze Monastery and invited the senior spiritual figures to a dinner. However, the Karze monks rejected his offers to show their displeasure with Rapten Choeling's refusal to follow His Holiness the Dalai Lama's advice against the worship of the Dorje Shugden spirit. The Switzerland-based dharma centre is one of the strongest supporters of Shugden worship.
Over the past two years, the Chinese authorities and Shugden supporters have backed each other's efforts in order to undermine the international image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The authorities have also arrested a number of Shugden critics in Tibet.
|Here is my original complaint to the 340-odd
subscribers of TIBET-L:
I have some good friends in Karze and Dargye Monastery, so I've been following recent developments there closely. Knowing the town and people as I do, I've had doubts about some details given in news reports, but kept silent. But the latest news bulletin (appended) is just over the top. The last paragraph implies that followers of Dorje Shugden, a deity whose worship has been banned by the Dalai Lama, are somehow in bed with Chinese authorities! This seems to me a blatant attempt by the Department of Information and International Relations in Dharamsala to discredit Shugden followers. I don't think that's appropriate content for a news release, and it casts doubt on all releases originating from this source. How can we find out what's really going on out there, if Dharamsala won't give it to us straight?
This comment of mine incited further postings, and things got a bit hot. See below for highlights:
|Jane Ardley, Nov 12:
Re. Chinese authorities and Shugden supporters/communities - see World Tibet Network News 19 January 1999 "Chinese embassy first secretary visits supporters of Shugden in South India with a member of Shugden group".
The title of the news piece says it all!
|Hi Jane, (this by private email, not on
Thanks for the heads up on this. I have not been following the Shugden issue, so I'm really quite ignorant about it. Why on earth would Shugden followers want to ally themselves with the Chinese? Such an alliance would totally discredit themselves and their cause in the eyes of other Tibetans. Is there something I'm missing here?
Hmmmm.....I haven't checked it out, but.....did this report also originate from the "Department of Information and International Relations" in Dharamsala?
|On Nov 12
a Tibetan named Tsering Dorji posted very critical
comments. His remarks are excerpted in my response to
him, which is given below:
Dear Tsering Dorji,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to comments being made by my detractors.
|Dear Pamela Logan, From what I have read by you, the stuff I've heard and read of you seems to be fully justified and accurate. You are just another opportunist. Behaving the way you are, you are just securing your JOB in Tibet.|
all, I am not paid anything for the work I do. My
personal expenses (rent, etc) are paid using savings from
my previous career as a PhD aerospace scientist. Because
of this, the portion of Kham Aid's budget that goes for
administrative overhead is kept at a very low 9%. The
rest of our income goes directly to programs that help
Tibetans. If you would like me to send an accountant's
report with the exact breakdown, I would be happy to.
Second, If you or anybody else thinks this job of mine is so great that it is worth selling my soul for through lies about Tibet, then you can have the job and welcome. This job is really not so much fun. One other way I keep down overhead is that we do not hire expensive Land Cruisers for our field teams. We use public buses. Riding across the plateau in a public bus full of chain-smoking Chinese and Tibetans is something I can live without, yet I do it several times a year. There is a report on our website about bus-riding and it derives from rich personal experience. I am 40 years old, and frankly, I don't think I can keep on doing this much longer. If the Chinese toss me out of Tibet, or if the exile community reviles me to the point where I can no longer raise funds, then I will happily move on to something else.
|Hey, if you know so much about what's going on in Tibet, tell me why are so many Tibetans from Tibet still fleeing into India. What Dharamsala knows about what's going on in Tibet is mainly from these Tibetans.|
there are many many problems in Tibet. Conditions there
are really very bad, even when you just consider the
economic standpoint. I know this very well, because I am
exposed to the same conditions every time I go there.
Nevertheless, some Tibetans are doing all right, and some
are even wealthy. Monasteries are alive, Tibetan language
books are published, and children do learn to read and
write in Tibetan. So the situation is not without hope.
It's worth remembering that many parts of China are very poor as well, and suffer from the same lack of human rights. I've been chagrined to see that, in all the uproar over the World Bank population transfer program, no one has had even the tiniest word of compassion for the desperately poor Chinese who are supposed to be relocated. But I digress...
The point I want to make is that many Chinese are fleeing the country as well; even though they haven't got an "underground railroad" and a Dalai Lama waiting for them in Dharamsala. The ones who flee are the most poor, most oppressed people. Contented people do not flee! So what Dharamsala and the world hears from refugees is not representative.
|I read or heard somewhere that you said that the problem in Tibet is not oppression by China but poverty. If that is so, who is to be blamed for this? Has China asked the World Bank billions of dollars for these poor Tibetans? Of course not! They want billions to move poor Chinese farmers into Tibet. Tell me if you know so much about Tibet, the population ratio of Tibetans and Chinese in Tibet.|
|Oppression and poverty are both problems. As a foreigner, there's not much I can do about the oppression. After all, many, many capable and dedicated people have been working on this for decades, and they haven't got anywhere. But poverty is a solvable problem. My work makes a real difference, and I can see it. Tibetans thank me for it, with tears in their eyes. So far, none have told me that my efforts would be better spent on political activism.|
|Thangka painting is all very fine. I am not impressed with your project "world's biggest thangka." (he is referring to this project, which is reported on the Kham Aid website and to the mailing list of Kham Aid supporters).|
|That wasn't my project. I had nothing to do with it. Some Tibetans decided to do it, they got a bank loan, and they went ahead. Most probably, the bank loan will never be paid back. So the money was "free." I've seen Tibetans get loans for monastery repair and painting, and for school improvements. Why Chinese banks lend money to organizations like these who have no collateral whatsoever is beyond me. It's symptomatic of imminent collapse of China's banking system. Perhaps you find that something to cheer about, but I don't think the results will be good for Tibetans.|
|What is the point? Does that mean there is religious freedom in Tibet?|
|There is limited religious freedom, so long as it does not cross the line and challenge Beijing's rule. For some people, it's enough. For others, it is not.|
|No, I think it is just for show and to boost your ego and fool the world, not to mention waste of money and time, which could have been put to better use. I am sure Tibetans in India can do a bigger and better Thnagka but for lack of money and a surfeit of common sense to know where their priority lay.|
|You can tell that to the Tibetans who led the giant thanka project! One might even go further, and ask why farmers and herdsmen give most of their wealth to monasteries, thus keeping themselves in poverty. This still goes on; in fact, it's epidemic.|
|Looks like you don't really know about the Shugden going ons.|
|You're right about that. The Shugden problem is way outside my purview. I don't understand the issue very well at all. It really has very little impact on my work, because most of the people I deal with are not Gelukpa. I will say that I think it's very unfortunate that Tibetans are divided over the Shugden issue, because it has harmed unity.|
|First of all, His Holiness the Dalai Lama never "banned" the worship of Shugden. The word "banned" is used by the Shugden supports. You used the word "banned" too. Are you a shugden follower or supporter? If not, why did you feel the need to bring this topic up? Are you an instrument of the Chinese Government - to spread conflict in the Tibetan community?|
|That accusation is ridiculous.|
|If you know anything or possess a bit of common sense, you'll know His Holiness can't ban anything. He is in exile for crying out loud! He doesn't have an army or police to force any ban on anything. He is our spiritual and political leader. It is the duty of a leader to lead us and advise us on all matters that we consider him our leader of. Do you know what the main motive of the worship of shuden? If you don't know ask the first Tibetan, you meet. And if that Tibetan tells you the truth, you will understand why His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised us, his followers, to cease worshiping shugden. Pamela, you are either too naive or another just spoke in the Chinese propaganda machine.|
question of whether the Dalai Lama can ban anything is
peripheral, but if you want to hear my opinions on it, I
suggest that we continue the discussion outside this
In response to Pamela Logan's response Please continue the discussion IN THE PUBLIC FORUM as it is the only way for some of us who are very interested in events to hear various opinions on those events. I agree that accusations and angry retorts will get nowhere but sometimes it leads to more productive debate and gets to the root of that anger.
The root of all anger is from the three poisons of ignorance, aggression, and desire. We are afraid of the unknown, and try to push away those things that we believe we do not want or need, or are threatening in some way.
Much of Pam's defense was right on target. And I think her reaction about the shugden-Communist Chinese connection was a little more knee-jerk than she might have been aware. The Tibetan diaspora always sees Communist Chinese collusion in anything that disrupts their unity, and sometimes there is evidence that that is the case, as noted in WTN quote on this issue from our friend in England.
Are you really 40, Pam!? Wouldn't have guessed it. I had you in the early 30's, tops.
Dear Cynthia Yellowhair and other Tibetan friends,
I am really not sure about the Karze events, but I pay attentions to the Tsering Dorje's response. I also do not think that H.H. the Dalai Lama will ban any things.
We must be alert that there are many secret agents from the Communist China try to disunite the Tibetan and their friends.
As I am a Chinese, I really do not know if I should support the Tibetan Independence or the authentic autonomy of Tibet. However, I do not believe the Communist Government of China. From 1950 to the present, the Beijing Government still do not give the authentic autonomy to the Tibetan. Moreover, the Beijing Government always oppress the Tibetan. It cause the separatist activities more active.
In Hong Kong, it is obvious that the Hong Kong is become more Chinesization and not internationalization. I am disappointed. Particularly of the base of the rule of law is partially destroyed now.
|Jack Churchward, who is head of an organization
Against Communist Chinese Propaganda:
Dear Pamela Logan,
In my own opinion, your work to educate Tibetans and provide for their welfare is praiseworthy. Some people that I have spoke with that have visited Kham agree wholeheartedly that education is an important aspect to the future of Tibet; independent, autonomous or occupied. In their mind, the work of educating Tibetans is more political than demonstrations (right now.)
On the other hand, our views of the Chinese government and the lengths that it will go are completely different.
I can't imagine why the security of world's most populous nation is threatened by an eight-year-old boy (his age when originally incarcerated) or is threatened by a 60year old mother of ten. The Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (the one recognized by the people that matter) might even be dead and I have heard that Rabeya Qa'dir (the wife of a friend and mother of ten) has even been tortured to make her admit to her 'crimes.'
The crackdown in Ghulja, Eastern Turkestan was covered by the media and they said 5 Chinese people killed. I have spoken to people who watched their friends and relatives get gunned down that day in February and watched helplessly while they sprayed the Uighurs with water in the freezing temperatures. 400 Uighurs died that day and the entire city is still sealed off over two years later. There is a Chinese government video that shows the demonstration, the Chinese victims and the summary execution of the 'perpetrators.'
These are the same people who have operated and maintained a propaganda theme park in Kissimmee, Florida for almost six years now. The pages that document their ownership is on the internet as well as the information presented by the park. As far as being a 'commercial' operation, the Far Eastern Economic Review last May wrote that Florida Splendid China was losing $9,000,000 a year (this equates to $25,000 a day.)
Maybe we will not agree on the depths of what the Chinese government will do to their own people as well as those under occupation and maybe you do not see it in the people that you work with, but I have seen enough to convince me.
Again, thanks for your efforts on behalf of the education and well-being of the Tibetan people.
PS Hatred of even the Chinese government is a waste of time. Recognizing the thugs for what they really are and acting accordingly is the proper course of action.
|On Nov 14, WTN
published a letter pointing out some errors in
Dharamsala's original news item. The writer, Dipl.Ing. Helmut Gassner, used
to be the German translation for His Holiness the Dalai
Lama from 1979-1995. Although he does not identify
himself as such, it appears that he is a Shugden
please allow a few corrective statements to the report published by World Tibet Network News of Wednesday, November 10, 1999.
Eighty Tibetan demonstrators jailed in Tibet (DIIR
(Source His Holiness the Dalai Lama's exile government's Department of Information and International Relations, Dharamsala)
The article suggests that the recent arrest of Geshe Sonam Phuntsok in the eastern Tibetan area of Karze "was sparked off by Karze Monastery's refusal to back supports of the spirit known as Dorje Shugden, whose worship is discouraged by His Holiness the Dalai Lama", after "Karze Monastery snubbed an offer of gifts and invitation for dinner from a Shugden supporter, Thupten, who is a monk from Rabten Choeling Dharma Centre in Switzerland and frequent visitor to Karze."
Ven. Gen Thubten is a senior monk of Sera Je monastic university and resident teacher at the Rabten Choeling Dharma Center in Switzerland since 1983. Since 1987 he has visited his elder sister and relatives in the district of Karze THREE times, with this year's visit lasting from June 1st till August 30th.
During his stay, Ven. Gen Thubten participated in the inauguration of the renovated Dhargye monastery under Gyalten Rinpoche. At the occasion he offered the monastery six carpets and a picture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama with His Holiness' two tutors, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. The monastery gladly accepted the gifts.
During his stay, Ven. Gen Thubten did NOT visit Karze monastery, as falsely stated in the Dharamsala report. He did NOT make any offerings that were not accepted, as falsely stated in the report, and he did not NOT invite any "senior spiritual figures for dinner" from either monastery, as also falsely stated in the Dharamsala report.
This report has not only been publicly posted on World Tibet Network News, but is also being actively distributed to various addresses by the Geneva office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's exile government. It should be obvious, that this report is just one more effort of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's exile government to mar followers of Dorje Shugden as Chinese collaborators, taking blunt lies to unlimited extents.
Dipl.Ing. Helmut Gassner
Looks like your smoking gun, Pam.
Regarding my original posting on the report of arrests in Karze, it WAS a knee-jerk response (as several of you have suggested) arising from frustration at the poor quality of reporting by Dharamsala on the incident. I'm sure those Tibetans on this list who have seen reports about trouble in your home towns back in Tibet, and have desperately wanted to know if friends and family were involved, can sympathize with my feelings. I just want to know the facts, and not have to wade through insinuations about unrelated issues.
Now that Shugden followers have published a rebuttal to the accusations made in the report, I feel emboldened to add my own criticisms. They arise because I know Karze town, and it's not large I would guess the population to be about 10,000 people, of whom maybe one-third are Chinese. So I am doubtful that 3,000 people would have been in the demonstration--after all, some Tibetan inhabitants are elderly or children, a larger number intimidated or apolitical, and a few actually pro-Chinese. Even if people came in from the surrounding countryside, 3,000 seems a bit high.
I'm even more skeptical of the figure of 20,000 given for the security forces--two for each Karze inhabitant! How could a demonstration last for thirty minutes in the face of such an overwhelming police presence? This figure defies common sense.
Lastly, whoever wrote the phrase "Chinese security forces" in the first report overlooked the fact that many policemen and soldiers stationed in the prefecture are ethnic Tibetan. I don't know the percentages, but of the four or five Karze County police officers I have met during trips there, ALL were Tibetan. (I don't know the officials in Karze County; but in neighboring Derge County, all top posts in the government, including the Communist Party Secretary, are held by Tibetans! I think that this is more the exception than the rule, but it does show that Tibetans are not completely powerless in their homeland.)
Now I don't mean to say that Dharamsala was trying to deliberately mislead anyone. They probably put out the information just as their informant gave it to them. But I know Tibetans in part of the world, and they exaggerate all the time, saying (for example) that a building built 300 years ago is "a thousand years old." That's a cultural trait, and it's something you learn to take into account when you work out there.
The Department of Information and International Relations in Dharamsala should know this, and they should question their informants carefully, but since they are not (and do not pretend to be) an objective news source,it's therefore incumbent on us listeners to apply the proper filters.
More broadly, I believe that conflict resolution--whether we're talking about China-Tibet or Dalai Lama-Shugden--necessarily requires that the two sides first acknowledge that middle ground exists between them, and then try to move into it.
Perhaps there is a way people can worship Dorje Shugden without causing harm.
Perhaps there is even a way for Tibet to survive and flourish under some form of Chinese rule.
My writings in this and other forums, which have come under heavy criticism, are aimed at giving cause for hope of finding middle ground between Dharamsala and Beijing. By dislodging the former from its pedestal, and showing glimmers of light (however faint) emanating from the latter, the two can be brought closer.
True it's not easy to find a path to the center when the two sides are so vehemently opposed.
But don't you think the results might be worth it?
Thank you for your comments. I concur with your conclusion. And, in fact I find that your finding with regard to reports on numbers is similar to mine. Without a proper filter system in place, it seems that certain numbers which are in favor of the cause, were printed outright while other figures unfavorable to the cause were immediately taken off or wantonly labeled as antagonistic propaganda. Therefore, in order to get to the truth, cool head must prevail, and objective, non-biased academic approach may prove to be the only meaningful way for truth finding, which will build a foundation for any parties concerned in finding their common ground for meaningful dialogues..., even negotiations between Daramsala and Beijing.
Pamela Logen wrote
"Perhaps there is a way people can worship Dorje Shugden without causing harm."
Please be informed that the very reason it is not practiced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is because it specifically does cause harm. Its practice goes against the non sectarian values that are imbued in a true Buddhist path, and therefore creates segregation among the schools. Furthermore it is specifically aimed at destroying the Nyingma school and teachings. Whereas the Nyingma and other schools have true integrity, being a true and pure path whose qualities are obvious to those who practice it, ( like the Kagyu, Drukpa Kagyu, Barom Kagyu, etc.) the people who worship this energy have in mind political power and supremacy which creates a "self cherishing" which, form my point of view, is antithetical to the Buddhist path itself.
Nov 21, 1999, WTN published the following revised report.
It downsizes the demonstration from 3,000 to 300
participants, and seems to be much more carefully
researched than previous publications on this topic.
Could this be a response to criticism by me and Mr.
Gassner? In any event, it's a welcome improvement.
in Sichuan follows arrest of religious leader (TIN) (also posted here)
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