"A classification system used to categorise humans into distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”
Racism can be defined as:
“The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
When a group of people are labeled according to a certain religious belief or affiliation and their access to public services, jobs, livelihoods and social freedoms are denied or restricted on the basis of this belief or affiliation this is racism.
90 Second Summary
In 1996 the Tibetan Government under the direction of the Dalai Lama issued an official ban on the centuries old Tibetan Buddhist practice of Dorje Shugden. (read more here)
In 1997 the Tibetan Government moved to strengthen its ban by issuing another resolution praising the efforts to implement the ban so far and encouraging the state monasteries to prevent monks who practise Dorje Shugden from receiving teachings. (read more here)
A Tibetan Lama residing in the UK became aware of the ban and persecution and spoke out against it publicly. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso had received teachings on Dorje Shugden from the same teacher as the Dalai Lama, so was in a unique position to challenge his view on the practice. (read more here)
The Dalai Lama ignored the dissent against his ban and continued to discriminate against people who refused to stop their practice - they were prevented from holding public office or working in any government paid position including doctors, teachers etc. This led to public protests to raise awareness of the ban.
In 2008 the Tibetan government forced all monasteries in South India to expel any monks who still refused to give up their practice of Dorje Shugden.
As Rebecca Novick (author and editor of 6 books on Tibetan Buddhism and culture) stated in an article for the Huffington Post, "Shugden practitioners gradually became social pariahs. Shopkeepers refused to sell to them, and landlords refused to rent to them. In 2008 the Tibetan leadership ordered the monasteries in South India to purge their populations of Shugden devotees. Monks who had formerly lived like brothers were now forbidden to talk to one another.”
Tibetans living in exile who faithfully continued their practice of Dorje Shugden could no longer live in any state monastery, could no longer work in any official post and were prevented from standing for public office and serving their country. This restriction on their basic human rights and freedoms was imposed solely on the basis of their religious beliefs.
In 2014 the Tibetan government issued a further resolution declaring that all Dorje Shugden practitioners were ‘criminals’, thus beginning the process of criminalising a religious practice.
At this present time the persecution and oppression of religious freedom of Tibetans in exile continues. The Dalai Lama continues to deny there is a ban even though he was instrumental in its creation and implementation.