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CHARITY COMMISSION: NKT = WSS

The file Inform holds on the NKT lists the WSS as an 'associated organization' because of the "substantial demonstrable connections between the two," and what an Inform spokesperson described as "the visible overlap of the membership base and spokespersons of both groups."

Inform produced a leaflet on the NKT, charting its history and some, though not all, of the controversies surrounding it. As academics involved in the study of New Religious Movements, Inform provides the organizations it comments on with draft copies of anything it writes about them so that the organization has chance to comment before publication. But when Inform provided the NKT with what they intended to write, the NKT responded, characteristically, by threatening legal action.

(Inform is financed by England's government to assemble information on established religious groups and New Religious Movements. Notably, in 2008, they received more enquiries about the NKT than any other controversial British New Religious Movement. New Religious Movements often set up legally independent charities and companies in which their members are encouraged actively to become involved, Sun Yung Moon's Unification Church providing numerous instances of such practice.)

The author Gary Beesley, can take some solace from this. The widespread response from the NKT web-police after he was forced to withdraw his book on the NKT, 'A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace', from circulation was that the suppression of his work through threat of NKT litigation (once again) was due to its being filled with libellous falsehoods. However, it is quite clear that the suppression of ANY information that does not concur with their version of truth has become routine practice for the NKT, whether it is false or true. The 19th century German philosopher Schopenhauer observed that all truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, secondly, it is violently suppressed and then thirdly, it is accepted by all as self-evident. If such is the case, the NKT's suppression of Beesley's work has already set in motion a process which will ultimately lead to widespread acceptance of its content.

(there is no evidence to support NKT's claim that Beesley's book is filled with libellous falsehoods; in contrast, NKT has threatened many with frivolous litigation)

Another important body that has had a long relationship with the NKT is the UK Charity Commission. Like Inform, one of the fundamental tenets of the Charity Commission is neutrality. Unlike Inform, the NKT has a vested interest in maintaining a healthy relationship with the Commission since its charitable status as the registered charity 'NKT-IKBU' brings significant benefits, both in terms of taxpayer funding and tax exemptions.

A highly political motive is prominent throughout one's involvement with the NKT, particularly in the upper echelons of the organization's ruling elite. In his letter to NKT centre directors in April 2008 for instance, after elsewhere stating he would personally organize demonstrations against the Dalai Lama as the 'representative' of the Western Shugden Society, Gyatso wrote:

"It is very possible that The Western Shugden Society will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama. Concerning this issue, we should know five things:

1. The demonstrations will be organised by the Western Shugden Society, not by the NKT.

2. The Western Shugden Society is the unification of all the Western Shugden practitioners, and NKT is a part of this main body.

3. When the main body, The Western Shugden Society, organises demonstrations, the NKT needs to voluntarily contribute and help.

4. There is no basis to break our constitution or internal rules because this is not organised by the NKT.

5. We should recognise that the NKT is not involved politically, simply supporting The Western Shugden Society with these demonstrations."

The senior NKT resident teacher, Lucy James, was 'fired' by Gyatso for not participating with the demonstrations. Her administrative director resigned, saying:

"Since the beginning of our involvement with the NKT we have been repeatedly told that the NKT was not involved in politics. Now that the NKT has opened up with its political position and begun demonstrating I can no longer be a part of the organization. This complete lack of honesty about the NKT's involvement in Tibetan politics is the reason for my departure."

After the demonstrations of 2008, a number of individuals wrote to the Commission to express their concerns about the NKT-IKBU's infrastructure, assets and membership being utilised in the WSS's highly political anti Dalai Lama campaign. Generally speaking, charities are advised not to engage directly in political activity. In a recent report on the activities of the League Against Cruel Sports, for instance, Andrew Hind, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:

"Charities must guard their independence very carefully, which means not engaging in any party political activity or leaving the charity open to the perception that they may be."

Critics of the NKT would certainly suggest that the NKT, in the guise of the WSS, was engaged in just such activity.

Similarly, critics point to the fact that the WSS press speaker during the 2008 anti Dalai Lama campaign was Kelsang Pema (Helen Gladwell), personal assistant to Kelsang Gyatso for 8 years. Again, in the US, the front man and leader of WSS demos was Kelsang Khyenrab, then Deputy Spiritual Director of the NKT, second only to Gyatso. The front woman and leader of the same WSS demos was Kelsang Dekyong, then National Spiritual Director of NKT USA, now General Spiritual Director of the whole organization. In Germany, the WSS front man and leader of demonstrations was Kelsang Ananda, National Spiritual Director of NKT Germany. Finally, the leader of WSS demos in Australia was Kelsang Rabten, National Spiritual Director of NKT Australia and New Zealand. On each occasion, the vociferous demonstrators were overwhelmingly members of the NKT.

However, about NKT Andrew Nind said:

"In this case, the charity (NKT) is campaigning against an edict or a resolution...we do not think that this is a political campaign or political activity because the edict has not been pronounced by a functioning government or political leader. Neither is the edict capable of being legally enforced. Clearly, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile do pass resolutions, decisions and edicts which are followed by their supporters. However, these do not become laws or policies in Tibet, India or any other country, and their supporters have the choice of whether to comply or not."

In other words, the campaign against the Dalai Lama is not a political one because the Dalai Lama is not a political leader and his edicts are not legally enforceable.

NKT would disagree with Andrew Nind. After all, NKT's central argument is that the Dalai Lama is a political figure and his edicts on Shugden are being enforced within the exiled Tibetan community.

Noteworthy however, is the repeated use by the Charity Commission of the phrase "the charity is…campaigning".

To whom exactly does the Commission refer when they speak of 'the charity' campaigning against the Dalai Lama's edicts? Certainly, it is not the Western Shugden Society; the WSS have, at least until now, not registered as a UK charity. Moreover, the complaints that the Charity Commission received were not made against the WSS but rather, against the NKT-IKBU itself.

Thus, when the Commission refer to the non-political 'campaigning' activities of 'the charity', the charity are referring directly to the NKT. From the perspective of UK Charity Commission, the demonstrations against the Dalai Lama that were carried out in the deliberate guise of the WSS were in fact, the activity of registered charity 101504, the New Kadampa Tradition-International Kadampa Buddhist Union.

Thus, the UK Charity Commission confirms that the New Kadampa Tradition and the Western Shugden Society are one and the same.

The Charity Commission further stated:

"…it would appear the charity believes its involvement in the issue to be political. We will therefore write to the trustees to explain the legal position that applies to charities taking part in political activity and campaigning, and the duties and responsibilities that must be complied with. As mentioned above, the reason for being involved in the campaign must be related to the charity's purposes and trustees must be able to justify the resources applied….Our advice will also include trustees considering the methods used to campaign, such as taking part in demonstrations or associating with another organisation(s)."

Surprisingly perhaps, according to the Commission's response to the complaint that the NKT IKBU charity has been engaging in political activities, charities can undertake such campaigning activity, "as long as they are only undertaken in the context of supporting the delivery of the charity's purposes or aims, in this case the Dalai Lama's edict against Shugden propitiation."

The Charity Commission website states that the aims and purpose of the NKT-IKBU are the "Public promotion of Kadampa Buddhism throughout the world, by supporting the development of Kadampa Buddhist centres throughout the world, by publishing and distributing book on Kadampa Buddhism and training teachers in the same, and finally the maintenance of a year-round programme of Buddhist teachings and meditation at the charity's home premises."

Where in this statement of aims and purposes, does the NKT IKBU refer to its 'religious freedom' campaigns against the Dalai Lama? Is it not the case that, despite the fact that this has very clearly been one of the NKT IKBU's most prominent activities of recent, such activities do not appear to link to any of the stated aims or purposes, either explicitly or indeed, implicitly? Why is it that the NKT-IKBU's significant involvement in these activities is not made clear in the statement aims and purposes?

Surely, if this campaigning has become a significant aspect of the NKT-IKBU's activities, this should be made clear in its statement of aims and purposes? If not, how are the general public or indeed non-governmental bodies such as English Heritage and the National Lottery to know whether they are contributing to a cause, the aims of which they agree with? Is this perhaps why the NKT have been so keen to hide the fact that, though they and the WSS are nominally distinct, they are in fact the same entity?

If more people were aware of this total dishonesty over the NKT's thoroughly political nature, how long would it be before it was no longer one of the largest and fastest growing New Buddhist Movements in the West? How long would it be before its innumerable mortgage payments could no longer be met and its burgeoning property empire began to implode, slipping like the proverbial sand castle back into the endless sea?

 

Editors Note:
Taxpayers should not subsidize NKT, its WSS campaign or its wealth. NKT has substantial wealth to do so itself and end its political charades.

We wonder how many individuals making what they think are charitable donations to NKT realize how NKT abuses their intent by building wealth and PR rather than engage in charity. We know of many NKT contributors that are sorry for ever getting involved with NKT.