Hundreds of Buddhists to Protest the Dalai Lama During His Visit

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Over 400 protesters will converge on New York City during the Dalai Lama’s visit this week to protest his alleged religious discrimination and human rights abuses. The protests are organized by the International Shugden Community (ISC) who staged demonstrations earlier this week during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Birmingham, AL and Princeton, NJ.

Demonstrators protesting the Dalai Lama

Protests in New York City:
Sunday, Nov. 2, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Manhattan Center, 311 W 34th St.
Monday, Nov. 3 and Tuesday, Nov. 4, 8:30 am to 4:00 p.m.,
Beacon Theatre, 74th and Broadway

The protesters claim the Dalai Lama publicly banned a 400-year-old mainstream religious tradition of making prayers to the Buddhist Deity Dorje Shugden. They say he is responsible for an aggressive persecution campaign affecting millions of people worldwide, resulting in suffering and human rights abuses, including the practice of segregation.

For example, signs refusing entry and services to people of Shugden faith have gone up in shop windows, restaurants and medical facilities in Tibetan exile communities, according to research conducted by the ISC and validated by multiple news organizations (1).

“The Dalai Lama needs to bring an end to the suffering caused by his sectarianism and religious intolerance. Millions of Shugden Buddhists lived happily with other Buddhists and practitioners of other faiths for centuries until the Dalai Lama’s sectarian ban. With these protests, all we are asking for is the freedom to practice our religion in peace. We do not ask that he likes or practices our religion but that religious freedom should apply equally to all people,” said ISC spokesman Len Foley.

Foley contiued, “Because he is such a powerful political leader and famous speaker we have no other method to ask him to stop this suffering other than to demonstrate against him – to publicly raise our voices – requesting him to change his ways and stop the discrimination. Please support us in expressing our free speech.”

ISC is an umbrella organization comprised of Dorje Shugden practitioners from multiple Buddhist traditions. There are over 4 million people within Tibet, Mongolia, India, the United States and across the world who practice Dorje Shugden prayers.

ISC states that whenever anyone criticizes the Dalai Lama, instead of responding to the allegations or agreeing to dialogue, the CTA immediately accuses them of being funded by, or working for, the Chinese government. ISC spokesperson Len Foley says, “We have no links to the Chinese government at all and have never received any funding from them - and neither the Dalai Lama, nor anyone else, has ever provided a single shred of evidence for this. Their claim is a complete lie - a smokescreen to distract attention from the truth: the Dalai Lama is persecuting people for their faith and is denying them the basic human right to freedom of religion.”

Footnotes:
1. Al Jazeera Reports, April 13, 2009,
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2008/09/200893014344405483.html (see transcript) or watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqa2DeOIEQM

News coverage includes:
NJTV Public Media New Jersey, Oct 28,
http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/dalai-lama-visits-princeton-university/
Fox News, Oct 25th, Dalai Lama visit sparks protests in Birmingham http://www.myfoxal.com/story/27016515/dalai-lama-visit-sparks-protests-in-birmingham

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Rachael Jeffrey

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