Open letter from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to Tom Burton, Executive Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald
San Diego, CA - Nov 27, 2002
Further to the letter I sent to you on 22nd November 2002, I am again writing to you on behalf of Buddhism in general and the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) in particular concerning the article printed in your newspaper entitled: Buddhism’s ‘Taliban’ blamed for Dalai Lama death threats (16th November 2002). The information given in your article which indicates that the NKT and myself are connected to the recent death threats made to the Dalai Lama, is completely untrue; I have evidence to prove it is false information.
I believe you have given information publicly without first carefully checking the validity of the statements you printed. By publicly using the words ‘Buddhism’s Taliban’ you have caused serious damage to the reputation of Buddhism in general and to the development of over 450 NKT Buddhist Centres throughout the world – this is your responsibility. Using these horrible words may have some purpose for you but the development of Buddhism and the NKT will seriously suffer as a result.
The NKT is a Western Buddhist community which is completely independent from Shugden groups in India, Nepal and other countries. We have absolutely no political affiliations. We are not against the Dalai Lama personally and never have been but we previously simply requested him to stop his ban of Dorje Shugden worship; this was a request for the basic human right of religious freedom. At the same time we also publicly clarified what is the true nature and function of this popular Buddhist deity. However in October 1998 we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue because we realised that in reality this is a Tibetan political problem and not the problem of Buddhism in general or the NKT. We made our decision public at this time – everyone knows the NKT and myself completely stopped being involved in this Shugden issue at all levels.
I can guarantee that the NKT and myself have never performed inappropriate actions and will never do so in the future, this is our determination. We simply concentrate on the flourishing of holy Buddhadharma throughout the world - we have no other aim. I hope people gradually understand our true nature and function.
There is no ‘Buddhist Taliban’ – such a thing is merely your own creation. Your correspondent, Umarah Jumali, is clearly mistaken because: (1) since 1998 the NKT and myself have completely stopped being involved in the Shugden issue at all levels, as explained above; (2) the BBC (November 16th Tibetan exiles fear increasing tensions) reports that police in Dharamsala are investigating an extremist Hindu group about these death threats; (3) ‘World Tibet Network News’ (from the Canada Tibet Committee, October 16th) reports that the threatening posters were signed by an unknown group called the ‘Himachal Liberation Front’.
We have two possibilities:
You can publicly apologize and withdraw your false statements and accusations and print an article which must be based on my above letter on the front page of your newspaper with a similar impact to the article entitled Buddhism’s ‘Taliban’ blamed for Dalai Lama death threats (16th November 2002) – the article which contained false information. In this way your readers will receive a balanced interpretation of this situation and it will show clearly that you have considered and presented both sides equally.
If you do not accept to publicly apologize and withdraw your false statements and accusations, and to print an article based on my letter as detailed in point (1), then I have no choice but to engage in legal action.
Could you please reply as soon as possible.
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