Forced Conversions & Expulsions from Monasteries

“No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.”

Article 1.2, Declaration On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Intolerance And Of Discrimination Based On Religion Or Belief, United Nations Resolution 36/55 (1981)

Forced Conversions & Expulsions from Monasteries

On 21 March 1996, at a public teaching, the Dalai Lama declared that he was banning the worship of Dorje Shugden1. His Private Office wrote letters communicating the ban (with a tape of the Dalai Lama’s words) to government offices, monasteries, associations, etc. The letter demands ‘total implementation of this decree by each and everyone.’2

Many Shugden worshippers were coerced into submitting to the Dalai Lama’s ban through monastic expulsions, the destruction of statues and shrines devoted to Shugden, and the fear of public humiliation and osctracism.

1996 - The start of the expulsions

In July 1996, Shugden monks peacefully demonstrated against the ban on their practice. Eleven monks are expelled from their monasteries simply for participating in these peaceful protests.

These expulsions are in direct contravention of basic human rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Between 1996 and 2008 many monasteries vigorously implement the Dalai Lama’s ban, some monasteries try to delay implementing the ban or only partially implement it.

2008 - A Massive Escalation

Unsatisfied with this, in January 2008, the Dalai Lama insists that all monks who continue to worship Shugden must be expelled from their monasteries.

Hundreds of monks praying outside the monastery they have been expelled from.

Under supervision of government officials, all monks are required to declare an oath abandoning their faith in Shugden. Any monk who refuses to submit to these forced conversions is expelled from their monastery, rendered destitute and homeless.

In one month alone, February 2008, 900 monks were expelled from their monasteries, simply for not being willing to abandon their faith in Shugden.

A failure to defend human rights

Amnesty International was informed about the monastic expulsions and other human rights abuses but declined to investigate.3

Although the International League for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International cite monastic expulsions in Tibet as human rights abuses4, so far they have failed to defend the rights of Tibetans in exile.

Dr Martin Mills, senior lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen has commented on the hypocrisy of this.

“Amnesty [includes] the expulsion of monks from Tibetan monasteries by Chinese officials as an example of ‘grave violations of human rights’ in the region; similar events in exile, […] are deemed less grave, despite their identical consequences”

- Dr Martin Mills, University of Aberdeen

Under the watchful eye of government officials all the monks of Ganden Shartse Monastery, Mundgod, India must read out an oath to abandon worshipping Dorje Shugden.

The Dalai Lama takes personal responsibility for the expulsion of hundreds of monks from their monasteries.