Our assessment of the Shugden issue

We, the organizers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Norway in 2014, are being asked about our assessment of the issue of the «Shugden controversy». We are asked this because a large group of «traveling protesters» of Shugden worshippers has landed in Norway and intend to launch verbal attacks on the Dalai Lama while he is here.

Our discussion is limited to the information that we have received from various parties, plus what we have found via web search.

The Buddha has said that we should be flexible of mind, and investigate for ourselves rather than to blindly accepting the truth presented by others.  We have tried to ignore that the attacks on the Dalai Lama are made in a confrontational and insulting style, and look at the merit of the claims made with an open mind.

These are our current views:

1.       The claims related to systematic human rights violations against the exile Shugden worshippers are not credible.  No independent journalistic source has been found to support these claims, and our network inside the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala tell us that these claims as baseless.  Furthermore, the claims have been brought before independent human rights bodies, such as Amnesty International, who have investigated and dismissed them.  However, there seems to have been some examples of individuals attacking Shugden worshippers or denying them access to public locations or jobs.  We have not been able to find out whether or not these actions have been properly investigated and dealt with, as they should.

2.       The claims that laws have been passed banning Shugden worshippers from e.g. government jobs, hospitals, schools and monasteries are false.  We have asked representatives of the Shugden movement to provide references to the laws and articles they are referring to, and not received any such information.

3.       The Tibetan parliament in exile is walking a dangerous path in strongly taking sides in the religious controversy.  In a recent resolution, the Tibetan parliament has moved that it: «Further recognises also the Dolgyal [Shugden] followers and others – whose have caused grave harm to the faith and polity of Tibet under the Chinese government’s ploy and in violation of the law of Karma – as criminals in history.»  Even thought this resolution has no legislative effect, and even though some Shugden followers haveresorted to violent tactics such as murder, we feel that this resolution does not adequately discriminate between criminal actions and personal faith issues.

4.       The claims that the Dalai Lama is suppressing religious freedom are based on a misrepresentation of the concept of religious freedom. The claims that the Dalai Lama is suppressing religious freedom is based on three facts:

a.       The Dalai Lama is actively advising people to stay away from the Shugden practice, because in his view it fosters sectarianism, replaces the rational approach of Buddhism with spirit worship, and because it harms the unity of the Tibetan people.

b.      The Dalai Lama asks people who practice Shugden worship not to attend his teachings.

c.       Monks and nuns who practice Shugden worship are not welcome to dwell in monasteries and temples that follow the Dalai Lama’s guidance.

In our view, the Shugden group have misunderstood the concept of religious freedom.  The Dalai Lama has no obligation to hide his religious views or to accept all students, regardless of their actions.  To the contrary, it is a matter of His Holiness’ religious freedom that he be allowed to chose what religious practice to recommend or refute, which students to accept and what religious conditions apply to people who want to dwell in the monasteries under his direction.

In general, we feel that the claims raised against His Holiness are originated and voiced in a way that is neither constructive, respectful nor honest.  There seems to be an echo chamber of Shugden chat rooms, blogs and institutional websites that repeat and amplify generalizations based on a few, isolated incidents.  We are very sorry that some Shugden people have decided to spend their time and resources to try and discredit a great spokesperson for peace with harsh words and unreliable accusations.  We wish them and everyone else inner peace and peace with the world around them.

Press release – Answer to governments decision not to meet the Dalai Lama

The Norwegian Tibet Committee received yesterday the response from the Foreign Ministry to its request to the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister to meet with the Dalai Lama. Foreign Minister responded that because there has been no political contact between Norway and China it will “not be right for Norwegian authorities to meet the Dalai Lama.”

The Norwegian Tibet Committee understands that this has been a difficult assessment to the government, but is disappointed with the decision and rationale.

– It is very unfortunate that the Foreign Ministry and the government has taken this decision. This shows that it pays to be rowdy when facing small countries and that China’s technique to punish other so-called independent nations seems working. Split and conquer still works, says leader of Tibet Committee, Tsomo Svenningsen.

The human rights situation in Tibet is worse than for many years. Over 130 Tibetans in recent years have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese discrimination policy. Many of those who have immolated themselves also ask for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. Tibet Committee believes that it is especially important now that the world show their support for Tibet and the Tibet issue.

The Norwegian Tibet Committee is very pleased to see the great popular enthusiasm surrounding the Dalai Lama’s visit. We hope that people can use their commitment also to encourage their members of Parliament from all parties, including parliamentary president, to meet the Dalai Lama in Parliament.

The board of The Norwegian Tibet Committee

Tsering Woeser awarded 2013 International Women of Courage Award

Tsering Woeser awarded 2013 International Women of Courage Award.

Tsering Woeser Tibetan author, poet, and blogger living in Beijing, Honored with the 2013 International Women of Courage Award by the US State Department

The State Department said in a press release: “In a period marked by increasing self-immolations and protests in Tibetan areas of China, Tsering Woeser has emerged as the most prominent Mainland activist speaking out publicly about human rights conditions for China’s Tibetan citizens. Born in Lhasa, Tsering Woeser’s website, Invisible Tibet, together with her poetry and non-fiction and her embrace of social media platforms like Twitter, have given voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information. Despite the constant surveillance of security agents and routinely being placed under house arrest during periods deemed to be politically sensitive, Tsering Woeser bravely persists in documenting the situation for Tibetans, noting that “to bear witness is to give voice to,” and asserting that “the more than 100 Tibetans who have expressed their desire to resist the forces of oppression by bathing their bodies in fire are the reason why I will not give up, and why I will not compromise.”

Norwegain Tibet Committee would like to congratulate Tsering Woeser for getting this honor in recognition of her courage and dedication to the cause of Tibet.

Unfortunately she will be not able to come to USA to receive the award. She has been denied travel outside China and denied passport.

Read more on Phayul internet site.

Pressrelease 4.03.2013

More than 27 Tibetan Community Associations, representing European citizens of Tibetan origin from across Europe, are organizing a mass solidarity rally in Brussels on 10 March 2013 to commemorate the 54th Tibetan National Uprising Day of 1959.

Nearly 5,000 Tibetans from several European countries and friends of Tibet from different parts of Europe are expected to converge in Brussels on 10 March to express their solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet, highlight the tragic situation and the self-immolation crisis in Tibet and seek support of the European Union and its Member States for the non-violent freedom struggle of the Tibetan people.

On that day, a grand peace march will start from Gare du Nord at 11.30 a.m and will culminate at Le Mont des Arts in Brussels city centre where a mass rally will be held throughout the afternoon (1.30/2 pm). A wide range of guest speakers from the Central Tibetan Administration, the European Parliament and prominent personalities from Europe will address the rally. On 7 and 8 March, young Tibetan activists and friends of Tibet will engage in lobbying at the European Parliament to apprise them of the current situation inside Tibet and to call upon them to engage in practical steps to support the issue of Tibet.

Since 2009, 107 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese government’s repressive policies in Tibet. The most recent were two young Tibetans Tsesung Kyab and Phagmo Dhondup who self-immolated on 24 and 25 February 2013. The messages these protesters have left behind are testaments to their motivations and aspirations of freedom for the Tibetan people and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Restive areas of Tibet are being kept under strict military control and journalists, tourists and other visitors are not allowed to visit Tibet. Criminal prosecutions are being carried out to target the families and friends of those self-immolating. It is evident that Beijing is attempting to contain this new force of resistance through ever more draconian measures.

The spate of self-immolations in Tibet is one of the most drastic forms of political protests the world has witnessed in the past 60 years. We still continue to see no end to it. In response, Chinese government continues to blame His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the outside forces for these acts of self immolations, and continues to impose hard line policies of repressions on the Tibetan people which further fuel dissent and cause such drastic acts of protests by the Tibetans. The self-immolations expose a crisis in the Beijing leadership’s Tibet policy and there is an urgent need for a fundamental change in its approach vis-a vis Tibet.

The European Parliament has adopted an impressive number of resolutions on Tibet and the EU’s High Representative, Lady Ashton, has also issued statements expressing deep concern about the violations of human rights in Tibet and displaying support and solidarity with the people of Tibet. We greatly value the support and are deeply grateful for the expression of concern, support and solidarity by the European Union. However, what has been lacking so far are sustained and coordinated efforts with a clear political strategy and agenda. The EU-China Human Rights dialogue has failed to produce any tangible results in the past 17 years since the start of this dialogue in 1995. During this period the human rights situation in China in general and particularly in Tibet has worsened significantly.

We, therefore, appeal to the European Union and its Member States to:

  • Urge China to review its failed hardline policies in Tibet and address the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people by resolving the issue of Tibet through dialogue.
  • Urge China to allow unfettered access to Tibet for the media, the United Nations and International fact-finding delegations to investigate and report on the real causes behind the self-immolations;
  • To instruct EU Special Representative for Human Rights to seek access to Tibet and to undertake a fact-finding mission to Tibetan areas on a priority basis;
  • To appoint an EU Special Coordinator for Tibetan Affairs with the primary task of encouraging and facilitating a dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet;

The organizing Committee for the 10th March European Solidarity Rally

Points of Contact:

Vincent Metten, International Campaign for Tibet, EU Policy Director (media coordinator), Contact  Cell Phone +32 (0) 473990440, Office +32 26094412

– Mr. Tashi , Media contact ( Tibetan), Contact No. +31 684 933832

– Mr. Lobsang Gangshontsang, Media contact ( English), Contact No. +41794423405

– Mr. Thupten Gyatso, Media Contact (French), Contact No. + 33680729054

China must urgently address deep-rooted frustrations with human rights in Tibetan areas

GENEVA (2 November 2012) – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday urged Chinese authorities to promptly address the longstanding grievances that have led to an alarming escalation in desperate forms of protest, including self-immolations, in Tibetan areas.

Read more on the page of United Nations Human Rights page

.

Press realse 29.8.2012

Press realse 29.8.2012

Norwegian Tibet Committee

Contact : Dechen Pempa and Chungdak Koren Tel +47 95024443, Oysten Alma +47 99378097

Suppressed Voices of Tibetan Writers To Be Highlighted at Bjørnson Festival of International Literature, Norway

29 August, 2012, Oslo: The suppressed voices of Tibetan writers will be highlighted at the upcoming Bjørnson Festival of International Literature in Molde, Norway.

Read more on festival side.

Running from 29 August – 2 September 2012, the Festival will feature an event focusing on the plight of Tibetan writers and the severe curtailment of freedom of expression currently being seen inside Tibet. The speakers at the event on 1 September will be Chungdak Koren, representing the Norwegian Tibet Committee, and Dechen Pemba, Editor of High Peaks Pure Earth , a website that translates internet writings by Tibetans in Tibet and China. Moderating the event will be Øystein Alme from Voice of Tibet radio.

Chungdak Koren

Dechen Pemba

Since 2008, the website High Peaks Pure Earth has been translating from blogs inside Tibet and China and highlighting articles, poetry and songs, including many by artists who have been detained and sentenced to imprisonment for their cultural expressions. High Peaks Pure Earth serves as a platform in the English language for Tibetan cultural figures. Notable writers translated by High Peaks Pure Earth include Woeser and Jamyang Kyi.

Due to political sensitivities surrounding invitations to writers from Tibet, Dechen Pemba, editor of High Peaks Pure Earth will be speaking on the cultural climate in Tibet and giving examples of how Tibetan voices are being amplified in exile. Copies of a new publication “Yak Horns” by exile Tibetan writer Bhuchung D. Sonam will be on sale at the event, “Yak Horns” is a collection of commentaries on writings from Tibet.

Read more here

The Bjørnson Festival of International Literature in Molde, Norway, is a prestigious annual event and is named after Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is considered, alongside Henrik Ibsen, to be one of the four great Norwegian writers. He was one of the original members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1903.

See full details of the event here.


Press Release 3 August 2012

Geneva (Switzerland) – 3 August 2012

PRESS RELEASE

Tibetan intellectuals especially targeted by Chinese authorities
At least 24 Tibetans intellectuals – monks, men and women have been given sentences ranging from few months to life imprisonment for excising their freedom of expression. The Chinese authorities especially targeted Tibetan writers, bloggers, singers, teachers, documentary makers and environmentalist under a crackdown policy since 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

64 Tibetan intellectuals’ details were today submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to Freedom of opinion and Expression for their urgent intervention.

These new generation of young Tibetans born and educated under Chinese Communist rule have edited banned magazines and are tech-savvy bloggers imprisoned for gathering, expressing and sharing information about conditions in Tibet especially after the March 2008 demonstrations across Tibet.

Their writing challenged the official account of the events of 2008 and situation in Tibet in general. The crackdown on Tibetan artists and intellectuals are the harshest since the Cultural Revolution. Strict restrictions have been placed on photocopying and printing documents. A public health worker, 41-year-old Wangdu was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2008 for sending e-mail to the outside world. He worked on an HIV/AIDS prevention project for the Australian Burnet medical research institute in Lhasa.

81-years-old Paljor Norbu, a Tibetan traditional printer master was arrested on 31 October 2008 and sentenced in a secret trial to seven years in prison. His family ran printing business for generations publishing Buddhist texts for monasteries in the Barkhor area in Lhasa. 12 intellectuals were released on fear of custodial death after excessive torture during detention by the Chinese authorities. Due to the severity of the torture some have become physically and mentally dependent on their family members.

The whereabouts of about 37 intellectuals are unknown. There are great concerns for their health. Family members have been intimidated and denied visits to prisons. Four school teachers were expelled and one demoted. A writer and comedian were escaped into exile. On 12 June, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, in her address to the European Parliament on the situation in Tibet said, “Over the last three years, an increasing number of Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures have faced criminal charges or been imprisoned. The EU is worried by restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity and freedom of expression in Tibet.”

She said that EU was concerned by the deterioration of the situation in Tibet, as illustrated by the wave of self-immolations and by clashes between the police and the local population since the beginning of the year.

Date: Geneva, 3 August 2012

MEDIA ADVISORY 21.05.2012

MEDIA ADVISORY

Dalai Lama speaks at rally “Europe for Tibet” on 26 May at Vienna’s Heldenplatz

Subtitle:. Along with H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Admin- istration Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the former French Minister for foreign affairs will address the „European Solidarity Rally for Tibet“

Vienna – On 26 May 2012 the “European Solidarity Rally for Tibet” will be held in Vienna, at Heldenplatz. At the rally, H.H. the Dalai Lama and the recently elected prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, Lobsang Sangay will be addressing the participants to the rally.

The reason for the rally is the escalating human rights situation in Tibet, which has deteriorated massively recently. At the rally, well known human rights advocates will be speaking out on political issues. The participation and speech of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will mark the highlight of the rally.

Barbara Stöckl, a renowned austrian anchorwoman will be the Emcee for the event. The rally will be initi- ated by a speech from former political prisoner Yeshi Dolma, who spent six years in a Chinese prison. Bernard Kouchner, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-founder of “Doctors Without Borders”, will also be giving a speech. Following politicians and famous supporters will also address the rally: Madeleine Petrovic (Green Party Austria), Eva Lichtenberger (Greens Member of Euro- pean Parliament), Matteo Macecci (Tibet Intergroup, Italian Parliament), Francesca von Habsburg, Bianca Jagger (international human rights lawyer) and Prof. Heinz Nussbaumer.

Bernard Kouchner says that the people around the world and especially in Europe need to send a strong signal of solidarity to the Tibetan people. Tibet and the Dalai Lama need the solidarity of Europe.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Tibetan musician Loten, Tenzin Ngingthatsang, the German rapper Curse and Harri Stojka.
The complete program is available on our website (http://www.europefortibet.com).

Accreditation:

We appreciate your interest and request your online registration at the following address:

http://europefortibet.com/medien/

Important information:

* Start of the rally at Heldenplatz: 14.30 hours  End of the rally: 19.00 hours

* Speech of H.H. the Dalai Lama: 16.00 hours

We will be happy to provide you with personnel who can provide information about Tibet. We appreciate and welcome any publicity regarding the announcement of the rally.

Contact:

Matthias Schickhofer
Tel: +43 699 11 29 71 84 Tel:
Media – Europe for Tibet matthias.schickhofer@supportingchange.org

Tenzin K. Losinger
+41 (0) 79 209 51 37
Media – Europe for Tibet medien@europefortibet.com

Free Liu Xiaobo

TIBETANS AND SUPPORTERS STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH LIU XIAOBO AND ALL PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE DETAINED BY CHINA

Oslo, Norway, 8 December 2010

On 10 december Tibetans and supporters around the world will take part in celebrations with Chinese human rights defenders to express their support for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

“This honour for Liu Xiaobo is an honour for all prisoners of conscience, including hundreds of Tibetans, persecuted by China for exercising freedom of speech,” said Chungdak Koren Director of the Norwegian Tibet Committee, part of the International Tibet Network. “We join Tibet Groups around the world in saluting Liu Xiaobo’s courage and integrity, and stand today with the people of China to celebrate this tribute to a man who has worked tirelessly for their right to freedom of expression.”

The voices calling for reform in China are getting louder and stronger with more and more Chinese and Tibetan advocates risking their lives to promote the freedom they desire. Thousands of prisoners – Chines as well as Tibetans – continue to be held behind bars, serving long sentences for speaking out and voicing their opinions . Before Liu was sentenced in 2009 he said in his ‘Final Statement’, “Freedom of expression is the basis of human rights, the source of humanity and the mother of truth. To block freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, to strangle humanity and to suppress the truth.”

“By awarding this prize to Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Committee has illuminated the human and political rights of the people in China and Tibet and created a sense of hope,” said Wenche Thingnes Vice Chairwomen of the Norwegain Tibet Committee . “We now expect governments around the world to follow the Committee’s moral leadership, to press China’s leaders to release Liu Xiaobo and all the heroic Chinese and Tibetan human rights defenders that remain in prison, and urge them to take meaningful steps to implement the political and human rights reforms that these brave advocates are risking their lives to promote.”

Norwegian Tibet Committee appreciate the symbolism and poignancy of the empty chair at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on 10 December, since neither Liu XIaobo nor any close family members are able to collect the award. We look forward to the day when Liu, and thousands of others currently detained by China, can take their chairs and freely express their views to the world without reprisal.

Press Realse 8 December 2010
Contact: Chungdak Koren
Mobl: +47 95024443

A Tibetan documentary film featured at Tromsø International Film Festival

Oslo, January 17

A Tibetan documentary film, “The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom“, by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam has been selected for the 21st Tromsø International Film Festival (TIFF), to be held from January 18-23, and is also nominated for its Norwegian Film Peace Award.

TIFF is the biggest film festival held in Northern Norway. It is a popular film festival, and at the same time an important meeting place for the Norwegian and international film industries. Tromsø is the largest Norwegian town north of the Arctic Circle, the gateway to the Arctic and boasts the world’s northernmost university. The city enjoys midnight sun from May 18 to July 26.

TIFF 2011 will be the 21st edition of the event. The festival screens challenging and quality films for local, national and international audiences.

Mr Tord Eriksen from the Tromsø chapter of the Norwegian Tibet Committee said, “The directors of the film, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, have been invited for the festival. The Norwegian Tibet Committee will use this opportunity to highlight the issue of Tibet during the festival. Ms Chungdak Koren from our main office will be coming to Tromsø to help facilitate this.”

Contact:
Chungdak Koren
Tel: +47 95024443
Tord Eriksen
Tel: +47 95704786