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"The Dorje Shugden movement gets clandestine support from the Communist Party. Their joint campaign to discredit the Tibetan spiritual leader is paying off, especially in Britain.
“False Dalai Lama, stop lying, false Dalai Lama, stop lying!” they chanted over and over through megaphones, drummers pounding out a rhythmic tempo. When he spoke, only snippets of his remarks could be heard above the cacophony.
The Aldershot demonstration was part of a pattern: Noisy protesters are following the globetrotting Dalai Lama almost everywhere he goes, denouncing him in terms that echo the invective heaped upon the Nobel Peace laureate by China’s ruling Communist Party.
On the surface, the commotion appears to stem from an arcane, centuries-old schism in Tibetan Buddhism. But a Reuters investigation has found that the religious sect behind the protests has the backing of the Communist Party. The group has emerged as an instrument in Beijing’s long campaign to undermine support for the Dalai Lama, a political exile who commands the loyalty of millions of Chinese citizens and whom Beijing accuses of plotting secession for Tibet.
The protesters are members of a sect that worships Dorje Shugden, a deity its devotees revere as a protector. The Dalai Lama discourages the practice, advising his followers that Dorje Shugden is a malevolent spirit.
This quarrel was once confined to the temples and monasteries of the remote Tibetan plateau and exile communities in India. But it has now been exported to the streets and stadiums of North America, Europe and Australia.
Tibetan and foreign protesters say the demonstrations are organized by an umbrella group called the International Shugden Community, which in the United States is registered as a charity in California.
A leaked internal Communist Party document shows that China is intervening in the dispute. The party document, issued to officials last year, said the Shugden issue is “an important front in our struggle with the Dalai clique”.
A monk and prominent former member of the Shugden movement who was based in India and Nepal, Lama Tseta, told Reuters that China paid him and others to plan and coordinate the activities of the sect’s followers overseas. Tseta said officials from the Communist Party’s powerful political special-operations unit, the United Front Work Department, control the effort and allocate funding. These officials direct the protests through senior Shugden monks in China and the Tibetan exile community in India and the West, who are the spiritual leaders of the sect, he said.
“The Chinese are using them as a tool to make the Dalai Lama look fake, to achieve their own ends, to undermine Tibetan Buddhism and to fragment Tibetan society,” Tseta said in an interview.
The protests have become so strident that the Tibetan spiritual leader has been alerted by U.S., Indian and other intelligence agencies that there is “now a serious potential threat to the Dalai Lama’s well-being,” according to a briefing document reviewed by Reuters.
That assessment is contained in the 18-page briefing prepared for the Dalai Lama's official representative in the United Kingdom, the Office of Tibet, ahead of the Tibetan religious leader’s two trips to Britain this year. The document, which was provided to the British Foreign Office, also reported that the U.S., Dutch and Swiss governments had tightened security during the Dalai Lama’s recent visits.
A former U.S. official said the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security was aware of the Dorje Shugden group and had to pay particular attention to it.
“There’s a lot of passion around this from Shugden practitioners, and the Chinese have fostered this Shugden worship as a way to split Tibetans,” said Kelley Currie, a senior State Department advisor on Asia and Tibet from 2007 to 2009.
A State Department spokesperson said the bureau provided protection for the Dalai Lama during his visits to the United States but declined to discuss operational details.
China’s effort to neutralize the Dalai Lama is part of a systematic and often secretive global campaign to silence criticism abroad and bring the world around to its views.
Beijing’s strategy has been especially effective in the United Kingdom. Britain, unlike other Western governments, doesn’t provide the Tibetan leader with official security during his visits. Ahead of the Dalai Lama’s two tours this year, his organizers officially requested protection because of fears for his safety, as laid out in the 18-page memo.
Two authorities on Tibetan Buddhism who reviewed the document – Columbia University’s Robert Barnett and Elliot Sperling of Indiana University – said they believe it is genuine.
“It’s not about Shugden, it’s about politics,” said Tseta, the former Shugden member. (Kelsang Gyatso said the same thing in 1998)
In December 2014, the International Shugden Community offered 40 free return flights from Manchester to Rome when the Dalai Lama was scheduled to attend a meeting of Nobel laureates in the Italian capital, according to a notice that was posted on the group’s website. The offer included meals and accommodation for protesters.
The International Shugden Community was incorporated as a charity in California in 2014, according to corporate records. It listed assets of $27,471 and income of $69,235 in its 2014 filings.
The majority of rank-and-file protesters are Westerners who follow the New Kadampa Tradition, or NKT. Members say the group plays no role in the protests. (FALSE: almost all involved in the protests, their organization and their literature are from/by NKT. Also, Kelsang Gyatso said he organized the protest campaign) It doesn’t disclose how many devotees it has, but former members estimate there are about 6,000 worldwide.
The NKT’s leader and founder is Kelsang Gyatso, a Tibetan monk who moved to Britain in 1977. The NKT, a registered U.K. charitable trust, has 1,200 centers and branches in 40 countries, according to its website. It had 21.8 million pounds on its books at the end of 2014, U.K. charity commission filings show.
When the Shugden protests began in 1996, they were low key, sometimes even respectful. Now they are vitriolic. At each stop, Shugden protesters wait in ambush.
In the past two years, protesters have penetrated the Dalai Lama’s security cordon to confront him personally. In May last year, Shugden Buddhists attempted to check in to the hotel where he was staying in the Netherlands, according to the security briefing provided to the British government. Hotel security staff ejected them, visit organizers said."
Undoubtedly, virtually anyone thinking about visiting an NKT center would not do so if they knew the truth about NKT, Kelsang Gyatso's hateful politics and NKT retaliations against those who leave NKT indoctrination.