"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.
What does the Dalai Lama say?
When asked in recent interviews in Oslo the Dalai Lama claimed that there is no ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden, "I never made a decision banning...no question of banning". He claimed that people have the freedom to choose.
What he didn't mention was that if you practice Dorje Shugden you cannot work for any part of the Tibetan government, be it in parliament or as a doctor or a teacher or any other post that is under the administrative control of the Tibetan government.
Most of the time the Dalai Lama's reputation throughout the media overwhelms people into believing he's a tower of peace and an icon of faith – they seem to forget that he's a politician, and like all politicians has a very careful use of language.
Is there a ban or was it simply advice?
It is without doubt that people who worked for the Tibetan government were told to either stop practising Dorje Shugden or leave their jobs. This is such an open fact that even people like Michael Jäckel will readily admit it in both an official press release from the German Buddhist Monastic Association (DBO) and in public statements when questioned on the issue. Read more here...
The DBO press release explicitly states, "In any society it is necessary for the protection of freedom of the majority to restrict religious extremism and to exclude their advocates from public institutions." [emphasis added]. This press release is published in full on the Official Website of the Office of the Dalai Lama (click here to see it), so the Dalai Lama's own office must agree with its contents, otherwise they wouldn't have published it.
There is also the Tibetan Parliament's resolution of March 17th 2014 labelling all Dorje Shugden practitioners as “criminals in history” which is a criminalisation of the practice (click here to read more about criminalisation).
This has been denied by supporters of the Dalai Lama who claim that the Tibetan Government cannot enact laws, so let's take a look at that in a bit more detail.
Can the Tibetan Government create and enforce laws?
The Parliament forms the legislative body of the CTA, as their website states, “The Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) is the unicameral and highest legislative organ of the Central Tibetan Administration.”
The CTA website goes on to state that, “The Local Parliaments are scaled-down replicas of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. They keep an eye on the activities of their respective settlement/welfare officers. They also make laws for their respective communities according to the latter’s felt-needs. The laws passed by the Local Parliament must be implemented by the respective settlement/welfare officer.”
It has been claimed that there is no ban because the Dalai Lama has no influence over the Indian government and that Tibetans in exile are ruled by the laws of India. If that really is the case then why would the Local Parliaments of the CTA be able to “make laws for their respective communities”, laws which, “must be implemented by the respective settlement/welfare officer”?
And if the Local Parliaments are, “scaled down replicas of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile”, is there any doubt that a resolution passed by the Parliament-in-Exile would not be enforced as law?
So while the media soaks up the smiles and laughs that fit the benign image of a Nobel Peace Prize winning monk, it seems that there is more politician than monk to his speech.
When does advice cross the line and become a ban?
According to the Oxford English dictionary a ban is to "officially or legally prohibit something."
So when you are told by the government you have to stop something or lose your job, that is an official prohibition of it.
When a government criminalises something that is a legal prohibition of it.
Does this situation fulfil both of those criteria?
It seems that both of those criteria are evident in public statements from the CTA, its Parliament, the Office of the Dalai Lama and the DBO.
So it would appear that since 1996 the Tibetan Government in Exile has been implementing an official ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden. It has prohibited people who practice Dorje Shugden from working for the government, its branches and subsidiaries.
It has then gone on to legally prohibit the practice of Dorje Shugden by passing a resolution in Parliament (a parliament the CTA admit has the power to pass and enforce laws amongst Tibetan settlements) in 2014 defining Dorje Shugden practitioners as “criminals in history”.
The CTA has then taken the extraordinary step of identifying and naming 34 Tibetans (along with their photographs and in one case an address) who have taken part in protests against this ban.
It therefore seems a little far fetched to believe the Dalai Lama when he says that there is no ban.