Race can be defined as:
"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.
Following the publication of my original article exposing the attempts by the Central Tibetan Authority (CTA) to manipulate the media through a UK research charity there have been several new developments. The original article (found here) was updated twice and as I have received yet further information I felt it prudent to create a second page.
The main reason is because the information I have now received comes from statements made by Inform and a spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Local Government. Given the importance of these comments I didn't want them to be lost in an update at the bottom of the original article.
As the article concerns a serious attempt by a foreign government to unduly influence a UK based research charity it is only right and proper that due prominence be given to comments from both Inform and the UK Government.
Inform claim that they emailed these comments across to me twice on 6th February 2015, however I didn't receive them until they re-sent them today. Had I received them prior to today I would have updated the article with their comments. Quite why they never arrived I don't know, it may have been due in some way to the various cyber attacks that my website was receiving around that time.
My first concern with Inform was their relationship with Tenzin Peljor and to what degree they were aware that he was working for the CTA. In addressing this aspect Suzanne Newcombe said, "We are aware that he works towards the [sic] promoting the Dalai Lama's position on various issues.", adding, "it is clear from his many public websites that Tenzin Peljor works actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA."
The agenda of the CTA with regard to the protest movement is to try and discredit it by claiming it is a 'front' for the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). The reason they do this is because they have spent decades trying to label the NKT as a fringe group led by a 'renegade' Tibetan. They posit that according to this theory the protests therefore have no valid basis.
It is this dual approach that Tenzin has spent many years working on and it is clear from Suzanne's comments that both she and Inform are aware of this, so it brings me back again to the question of why Suzanne helped Tenzin try to establish this link with her comments to The Foreigner.
In defending her rationale Suzanne stated that:
"we have had reports from enquirers that they were encouraged at local NKT centres to attend protests, and that at times travel fare was offered for transportation to the protests. It is also evident by reading social media accounts of NKT-members on Facebook that during recent protests NKT-members travelled together on buses and enjoyed each other's company while traveling to several cities.
"This pattern of information goes far beyond a small number of individuals who have dual affiliations. It is Inform's educated conclusion from this pattern of association that it is unlikely such a level of involvement of NKT members with the ISC/WSS could come without the approval of the NKT at some level (even if it is only tacit approval)."
It is a well known fact that NKT members encourage people to attend the protests because they are a tradition that practice Dorje Shugden. In the same way members of the Gyeden Tensung Society encourage people to attend the protests for the exact same reason.
However saying that participating in the protest movement, "certainly could not happen without the agreement of the New Kadampa Tradition", and that such participation is a, "donation in kind from the NKT ", is completely different to saying participation occurs with "tacit approval".
Suzanne goes on to re-state (several times) her belief that there is tacit approval from the NKT that certain of its members attend the protests and help with organising aspects of them. I'm quite sure there is tacit approval, and I don't need a PhD to come to that conclusion, it's obvious. In the same way I'm sure there's tacit approval from the Gyeden Tensung Society, the North American Gelug Buddhist Association, and every other organisation whose members take part in the protests.
"Tacit approval", and, "certainly could not happen without the agreement of", are two entirely different statements. Clearly Suzanne's comments to The Foreigner were intended to incorrectly portray the protest movement as directly connected to the NKT. An assertion that when challenged on she backs down and transforms to 'tacit approval'.
She adds, "we also stress that there is not a direct or official institutional connection and being a member of the NKT does not mean that one is involved with the ISC/WSS or vice versa. Demonstrably, there are also other networks and individuals unconnected with the NKT who participate in the protests."
I can only say that Inform appear to have been stressing this point somewhat less to The Foreigner than the attempts Suzanne was making to try and establish a direct connection.
She also wished to make clear that:
"No enquirer who was at one time affiliated with the NKT ever described feeling compelled to attend the protests or that their affiliation with the NKT was in any way jeopardised by choosing not to participate. And considering the much larger numbers of people affiliated in some way to the NKT and the much smaller number attending protest events, it is clear that the majority of those interested in NKT teachings are not involved with the protest movements."
So what exactly appears to have happened with Inform?
Suzanne's comments are a clear step back from the stance she appears to have presented to The Foreigner. She acknowledges that the protest movement is not directly connected to the NKT, that members of the NKT are not compelled to participate in it, and that there is no penalty for non-participation.
It seems that she draws the same conclusions as the articles I have written on the subject, namely that the NKT are not directly organising the protests, but that it's members do participate in them, and that the NKT approves of this in the same way every other tradition whose members are involved does.
I would say that in my professional opinion her comments to The Foreigner alleging a direct connection between the NKT and ISC were a result of poor judgment and undue influence from Tenzin Peljor and Carol McQuire.
If it wasn't a case of poor judgment, then bearing in mind Inform's clear recognition of Tenzin's role in the CTA propaganda campaign against the protest movement, it can only have been done consciously as a form of collusion. At this point I'll err on the side of good faith, but Suzanne and academics like her need to be clear that you can only use the "I've been misquoted" or "taken out of context" excuse sparingly, after the second time it starts to wear thin with even the most kind hearted journalists.
Another factor helping me look more kindly on Inform's statement is their explanation of the role in which Carol alleges they played in her selection for the panel at the SOAS conference. Carol had previously stated in a Facebook comment that she was asked by Inform to be on the panel.
This claim is categorically refuted by the Chair of Inform, Professor Eileen Barker, who said in response to my enquiries on the issue:
"I must also repeat that Inform was not involved in asking anyone to be a panel member at the SOAS event. I cannot clarify Inform's "role" any further than that as it had no role - no matter whatever you or anyone else may persist in stating!"
Suzanne also stated, "Inform had no role in organising the panel discussion held entitled 'The Shugden Controversy and the 14th Dalai Lama' held at SOAS on 15 August 2014; Inform had no power to arrange for Carol McQuire to be a speaker at this event. We have not seen any correspondence where she suggests that we were involved in organising the August 2014 SOAS panel discussion."
Suzanne's comment was made prior to the publication of the original article, although it was only received today. For the benefit of clarity the comment Carol made alleging Inform's involvement is below, which Suzanne won't have seen at the time she made the statement above:
Given the seriousness of the situation the Department for Communities and Local Government was approached. They were asked, as the main funders of Inform, about the level of departmental oversight and specifically about possible bias in their research methods.
Their spokesperson said:
“The Government has supported INFORM since the 1980s, providing grant funding to help to monitor and collect information about new religious movements – some of which can be controversial. They also provide advice to members of the public. We remain confident that appropriate procedures are used by INFORM to gather information, and we believe there is a strong public interest to have this service available.”
Whilst in broad terms the department is confident that Inform use appropriate procedures it is clear that in this specific case there has been some undue influence exerted upon them which has resulted in poor judgment on the part of Suzanne's dealings with The Foreigner.
It is my hope this is an isolated case. Time will tell as no doubt Tenzin will continue to direct the media to them as a way to try and undermine the protest movement, whilst Carol will continue to funnel as many people as possible to them as 'survivors'.
Less than 6 hours after this article was published Carol McQuire posted a response on Facebook which accused me of inventing evidence and trying to cause a "schism" between herself and Inform. She reposted the Facebook thread that the extract above is taken from along with the following comment:
"EDITED February 21, 2015 at 05.36
I am pinning this thread for a while to the top as it is the one in which IndyHack claims I said that Inform invited me to talk at the Shugden discussion event at SOAS.
No one at Inform had anything to do with organising the event at SOAS. There is no such post in this thread like the one that IndyHack shows on his webpage AreBuddhistsRacist - link below - and although IndyHack can say that I deleted my post now, I would never have claimed that Inform created that event because they didn't. There is one big problem for IndyHack - why would I suddenly insert a comment about the organisation of the SOAS event into a conversation about the 'voices that got left out' of the discussion? Absurd! You can read the original thread down below.
I shall hopefully be publishing, but only with Inform's permission, emails that show I invited someone from Inform as my guest to SOAS. If Inform had invited me then why would I invite them? Why does IndyHack need to 'invent' so called 'evidence' to make a case for his campaign? Is this just a ridiculous invention designed to create a schism between myself and Inform? I am afraid he has been unable to do that.
Interestingly, this post I am pinning shows some abuse published about me by NKT followers. Probably a good time to remind myself of that. That's what their campaign appears to be made of - simply - abuse, inventions and criticism. In the name of Shugden? In the name of 'giving Shugden a good name', Shugden's reputation is slipping.
As Carol correctly points out she could have deleted her post from the thread along with other posts to try and give the appearance that the comment was out of character with other comments in the original thread. Previously Carol lied about the declaration which was published on the CTA's official website in a vain attempt to protect Tenzin Peljor, and it seems she is doing so here to try and protect her own reputation.
Why would Carol claim that Inform invited her to the SOAS panel? I'm not sure, but she seems to be trying hard to foster the appearance of a close relationship between herself and Inform, almost as if they are both on the same side in her campaign.
It is unusual that Carol now reveals she invited someone from Inform as her guest to the SOAS discussion. The person in question will most likely have been Suzanne Newcombe. This shows quite clearly the level of involvement that Carol seeks to develop with Inform, at least on her part.
If an organisation is conducting independent research it would seem wholly inappropriate for it to attend such an event as a guest of one of the speakers, particularly one as active in campaigning on behalf of the CTA as Carol. If attendance at such an event was deemed necessary for Suzanne's research it would be an appropriate procedure for her to attend as an independent observer, not as the guest of any of the speakers.
As to why I would "invent" this comment, Carol claims this is because I am trying to create a "schism" between her and Inform. I can assure readers that if I was interested in fabricating evidence I would choose something more compelling than a comment about a side issue.
In terms of creating a schism, my only interest in Carol's relationship with Inform is to establish whether it has crossed the lines of professional conduct and caused bias in Inform's research. Carol's use of the word "schism" is revealing in itself as it is defined on Wikipedia as, "a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination."
Does Carol view Inform as belonging to the same movement as her, or does she view herself as being part of Inform?
This point gets to the crux of the issue. Clearly Carol views Inform as somehow being on her side, an ally she is using in her struggle against the protest movement. As she has already admitted involvement with the CTA and having received financial renumeration from them the question again arises to what degree this view is reciprocated by Suzanne and Inform?
Finally in response to Carol's accusation that I fabricated the evidence above I have a simple question, why has she waited 2 weeks to make this point?
If I was responding to an article in which I was mentioned and the article contained a comment which I hadn't made I would address that point immediately, I wouldn't wait for 2 weeks.
It is interesting that within less than 6 hours of the above article being published Carol made claims that this comment was fabricated, yet in several responses to the original article she made absolutely no such comments or raised even the slightest concern about it.
That leads me to believe that her reason for making such a claim now is out of concern for her relationship with Inform, not out of a concern for the truth.
22nd February 2015
In the interests of fairness I am including this additional update following further comments from Carol McQuire regarding both the original article and this updated one.
She claims to have failed to address the Facebook comment attributed to her about Inform's alleged role in the SOAS panel earlier because she found it absurd and did not have, "the time to search through the threads on the...Facebook group to find the ‘source’ of your claims."
To weigh up this point readers should be aware that the Facebook group in question is a public group that has a search function. When you type the text "SOAS" into the search box the thread in question is returned as the 11th result.
Granted it takes some time to look through the comments of each thread to find the right one, but as the date and time of the comments is also included in the screenshot above I doubt this would take a significantly long period of time.
To test Carol's theory I recreated the search. The time taken from typing "SOAS" into the search box and finding the remaining comments on the thread in question was less than 3 minutes. The claim that she didn't have the time to find this in the 2 weeks since the original article was published is clearly preposterous.
She goes on to accuse me of fabricating evidence, lying, and failing to conduct any interviews or gather original source material.
The evidence published on this website is not fabricated, I do not lie, and I do conduct interviews and gather original source material. I am presently the only journalist who has interviewed qualified human rights experts on this subject (see here). I have also used other forms of original source material received from people connected to this controversy through statements and confidential comments.
Some of my sources are active in the exile leadership and it is not just for my own safety, but for theirs as well that anonymity and protection of sources is used. I fail to understand how Carol can simultaneously acknowledge that this controversy covers, "dangerous and contentious issues", whilst deriding the use of anonymity as a means to mitigate some of those dangers.
She also seeks to muddy the waters regarding payments she has received from the CTA by stating:
"To say I have admitted to something when I have admitted to nothing would be unacceptable on a common sense level and even in court unless you are certain that, for instance, anyone invited to an NKT event with a gift ‘in kind’ would also be assumed to have given up all their integrity and independence to any donor upon acceptance of that gift."
Once again it appears from her comments that Carol is admitting to having been invited to attend the Dalai Lama's teachings in Basel as a guest of the CTA. Instead of bluster about 'intention', 'gift in kind', and 'donors', perhaps Carol could answer the following question:
Have you ever received any payments, whether monetary, gifts, donations, rewards, or preferential treatment such as free attendance at an otherwise 'paid for' event (such as the Dalai Lama's teachings in Basel), from the CTA or anyone known to be associated with, or acting on the behalf of, the CTA?
A simple yes or no would suffice.
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