The Experience of Religious Persecution: “A Knock at Midnight”

A Knock at Midnight

Nick Longstaff

The most precious thing in anyone’s life is their child. From the moment you first hold them in your arms your heart demands that you protect this fragile creature with every atom of your being. You want the best for your child, you want to keep them safe, you want them to enjoy freedoms and opportunities you never could. But there are some ugly voices in the world that breathe dark fears even into the souls of children.

“About a hundred people attacked us. Had we gone out of our house they would definitely have killed us.” Pema Thubten recalls the night a mob of the Dalai Lama’s followers attacked their home. Stones smashed through their windows, shards of glass exploding into their bedrooms. Intoxicated by hatred the mob poured kerosene over the doors and set a blaze they hoped would consume the Thubten family.

Shouting obscenities and pelting the burning home with stones, not caring that there were children inside, the mob demonstrated the inevitable destination of the intolerance and prejudice the Dalai Lama had sown in their minds. By declaring again and again that those who worship Dorje Shugden are responsible for Tibet’s failure to gain its freedom, and for shortening his own life – absurd claims that can never be supported by any logic – the Dalai Lama has created an atmosphere of hatred in which no Shugden practitioner can ever feel that they or their family is safe.

Sculptor Lobsang Tsultrim says “Three times a day I have to go and check on my wife when she is outside grazing the cows to make sure that nobody has harmed her.” His wife weeps: “How many times have they thrown stones against our house?! A little child sleeps inside! I don’t care if they kill us parents, but I am afraid they will harm our child.”

The persecution is sanctioned to such an extent that the Times of Tibet, and the newspaper ‘Knowledge’ had no qualms about publishing an advert declaring: “Anyone who is against the Dalai Lama must be opposed without hesitation, with men, money, and possesions, that is to say by all means, including violence.”

Jampel Yeshe set up a safe home in Delhi for Shugden practitioners fleeing the persecution in the Tibetan Settlements. In response, the Security Bureau of the Tibetan exile government published a dossier accusing him of being an enemy of the Dalai Lama and ‘wanted’ posters appeared on the walls of Tibetan Settlements. His family was threatened so severely that he had to send his wife and three children abroad.

Holding one of the ‘wanted’ posters he says: “This is my wife’s name. The names of all my children are listed including concrete information on what school they attend. These wanted posters have been posted everywhere, I assume this is meant as encouragement to kill us.

“I had to send the children abroad for safety reasons. When my six-year-old daughter answered the telephone, anonymous callers told her, “We will kill your Daddy.” This traumatized her so severely that she would check on me constantly, try to close all the doors, and prevent me from going outside. We have all been separated from each other for quite some time now, mother and father from children, husband and wife from each other.”

The Thubten family were lucky to survive the first attack on their home. They fled to Dehradun and while they were gone the Dalai Lama’s supporters broke into their home and destroyed everything they owned. Now they live in the shelter homes in Delhi struggling to survive.

Jampel Yeshe lives alone, unable to hold his daughter in his arms, afraid that having her near him would put her at risk. His tears tell us how much this pains him. What fears must haunt her mind? Never sure whether her father is safe or not. The Dalai Lama’s intolerance – an ugly voice of hatred – has brought fear into the hearts of children.



Pema Thubten:

Swiss Documentary (part 2): 0:25 – 1:27

An Interview with Mrs Pema:

Lobsang Tsultrim:

Swiss Documentary (part 1): 8:15 – 9:50

Jampel Yeshe:

Swiss Documentary (part 2): 2:05 – 3:55

An Interview with Jamphel Yeshe:

Wanted Posters – adverts in The Times of Tibet / Knowledge

Swiss Documentary (part 2): 0:05 – 0:40