JANUARY 2000 NEWS   

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, updates  


CONTENTS

   Karmapa's stay does not violate agreement
   Karmapa free to stay in India
   Mystery of the runaway monk
   Minister Urges Karmapa To Take Over Monastery
   China confirms
   Dalai Lama stops short of pleading asylum for Karmapa
   India protesters urge asylum for Karmapa Lama
    The Secret Report Of Tibet's 10th Panchen Lama
    Letter On Escaped Boy Lama

Karmapa's stay does not violate agreement   


India says Lama's stay does not violate agreement (Reuters)

NEW DELHI, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The high-ranking Karmapa Lama's stay in India does not violate diplomatic agreements between New Delhi and China, Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes said on Sunday.

"I don't see any violation of anything in that and don't see why we should be upset about anything related with that," Fernandes told reporters, adding that if he wanted to stay for a while he should be allowed to do so.

The Panchsheel agreement signed in 1954 by India and China lays down the principles of friendship between the world's two most populous nations. It has five basic principles including pledges of peaceful co-existence and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

Fernandes said any granting of political asylum to Karmapa Lama would not affect India's bilateral relations with China.

"I don't think there is any need to look at this as an issue which can impinge on our relations," the Press Trust of India quoted Fernandes as saying.

Karmapa Lama, the third highest Tibetan Lama whose authority is recognised by both the Dalai Lama and China, fled Lhasa and arrived in Dharamshala in India on January 5 after an arduous 1,400-km (875 mile) trek through the snowbound Himalayas.

Earlier, China told India to tread carefully over the issue of granting asylum to the Karmapa Lama and to stick to the terms of bilateral agreements.

The boy monk's journey revived memories of the escape of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to India four decades ago.

Thousands of Tibetans led by the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, nine years after Communist army entered Tibet and overthrew the Buddhist theocracy there.


Karmapa free to stay in India  


Karmapa free to stay in India

NEW DELHI, Jan 17, India (AP) -- The teen-age Tibetan Buddhist lama who fled to India last month is free to stay, although he has not applied for political asylum, Defense Minister George Fernandes said.

"If people walk in and want to stay on for a while they can be allowed to stay," Fernandes told reporters Sunday when asked about political asylum for the 17th Karmapa, who left his monastery in Tibet and arrived in northern India Jan. 5.

Minister of State for External Affairs, Ajit Panja, also said there was no harm if the Karmapa stayed, the Press Trust of India reported.

"He is not such a person we should be actually worried about. He is a religious leader and in India, under the constitution, if an outsider comes and professes his religion, he is free so far as religious things are concerned," Panja said.

Both leaders said no formal application had been made for political asylum and that his staying in India would not affect relations with China.

The Communist Party of India protested, saying Fernandes' comments were contrary to the stated position of India's government that Tibet is an integral part of China.

"The issue of the Karmapa must not be allowed to be utilized to damage the process of improvement of relations with the People's Republic of China," the party said in a statement.

India has allowed more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees to settle within its borders since a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama, the supreme Tibetan political and religious leader, heads an exile government in Dharmsala, and the 14-year-old Karmapa is staying nearby.


  Mystery of the runaway monk


Mystery of the runaway monk

Hindustan Times
Jan 16
By Rajesh Ramachandran

The Buddha must be frowning. For, the mysterious appearance in Dharamshala on January 5 of the boy who the faithful believe is his reincarnation has sent shockwaves from Lhasa to Washington, Beijing to New Delhi.

The 14-year-old Karmapa Lama's mysterious, 900-mile winter trek across the Himalayas has impacted on the power struggle between the two factions of the Karma Kagyu order which he heads; the Dalai Lama's 50-year movement to regain Tibet; India's already sensitive relations with China; and US interests in Tibet.

No wonder. Ugyen Trinley Dorje, to give the boy his real name, is the only Tibetan high priest who is recognised by both the Dalai Lama and China. The Dalai Lama accepted him as the 17th Karmapa in June 1992, and after some thought, the Chinese followed suit. That was seen as an attempt to build bridges. There was talk then of his coming to India, and his arrival now could become a climactic episode in the relationship between the Dalai Lama and China, who, some observers believe, might even have colluded in the boy's escape.

Publicly, the Tibetan government-in-exile claims the Karmapa Lama fled Chinese oppression, and that he wants Delhi to grant him asylum. Beijing says he is visiting India to bring back symbols of his authority such as the "black hat" from Sikkim's Rumtek monastery. India is "cautiously studying the issue." And Washington wants China to talk directly to the Dalai Lama to preserve "Tibet's unique religious, cultural and ethnic heritage."

China's game

But there's more than meets the eye. Considering the tight Chinese security around Tibetan monasteries, how could the boy escape and trek 120 miles a day unnoticed? Did the Chinese deliberately let him go?

But what could be the Chinese interest? One, if he wins the factional battle and returns with the black hat as well as acceptance from the Tibetan diaspora, it will only strengthen Beijing's grip over Buddhists in Tibet, for its candidate would have gained legitimacy.

Two, the institution of Karmapa wields considerable influence in Sikkim, whose merger with India is not acknowledged by China. Analysts believe that if the Chinese-recognised Karmapa visits there, it would give China a handle in the state.

Three and most important, China has been keen to resolve its two festering irritants —Tibet and Taiwan — which give the West undue leverage over it. Delivering the young Karmapa Lama to the Dalai Lama could be the first step to striking a deal with the latter.

Who is Tai Situ?

Suspicions about China's complicity in a Dalai Lama plot are bolstered by the role of Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of the four high priests of the Karma Kagyu order. All reports suggest he was the key person behind the boy's escape. Tai Situ was persona non grata in India till August 1998, when the 1994 expulsion order against him was mysteriously rescinded. India had then branded him anti-national, implying he was pro-Chinese.

Interestingly, Tai Situ was the priest who had identified Dorje as the 17th Karmapa, driving a wedge in the Karma Kagyu sect in doing so. Travelling several times to Tibet and China, he was instrumental in persuading the Chinese to recognise the boy, and forging a link between China and the Dalai Lama.

Tai Situ has several court cases pending against him, including one by the CBI for producing a fake residency certificate to buy 500 acres of land in Gurgaon. His legal advisor has been an influential member of the Union Cabinet since 1998, and is said to have lobbied with the home ministry to lift the ban on him (he is still barred from nine Indian states, including Sikkim). The Dalai Lama also has informal access to a senior Union Cabinet minister with whom he met recently.

Dalai Lama's fear

The other question Tibetan factions in Delhi ask is, if the boy's escape was genuine, why did he go to Dharamshala instead of Rumtek, which has been the Karmapa's seat since the 16th reincarnate fled Tibet? Also, why did the Dalai Lama receive the boy? The Karmapa and the Dalai Lama have distinct beliefs and lineages, and do not have to pay obeisance to each other.

Officials at the Dalai Lama's Delhi office say "any Tibetan refugee can meet the Dalai Lama, particularly someone seeking spiritual teaching." But the Dalai Lama was in retreat, and surely would not have received any other refugee during this period.

Khenpo Rimpoche, the priest who was ousted from Rumtek by Tai Situ, cites what he believes is the "vital" evidence linking the Tibetan government-in-exile with the boy's escape: "The pro-China Tai Situ's associate, Karzang Chime, was appointed by the Tibetan government-in-exile to its Kathmandu office in October. It was for this specific purpose."

What is the Dalai Lama's motive? Since the negotiations which began after China recognised the Karmapa failed, the 64-year-old Dalai, insiders say, has been worried about the future of Tibet and its exiles. He wants the problem to be resolved during his lifetime, and is fearful of going down in history as the Dalai Lama who lost his kingdom and died in exile — a fear exacerbated by a recent road accident.

The Karmapa's seeking refuge at Dharamshala thus reinforces the Dalai Lama's vision of a unified Tibetan community under his leadership. The previous Karmapa, keen to retain the distinct identity of his order, had not been willing to pay such obeisance.

Moreover, the Karma Kagyu order has been more popular in the West (the Dalai Lama emerged as a spiritual icon in the US only in the late Seventies), and commands vast wealth (its assets are valued at $ 1.2 billion), influence and following. These could come under the Dalai Lama's control if >the young Karmapa Lama accepts his supremacy.

Then, the Gelug and Kagyu orders together comprise the bulk of Tibetan Buddhists. This enables the Dalai Lama to become the spokesman for most Tibetans.

As for Washington, within days of the Karmapa's "escape" becoming known, US special coordinator for Tibet Julia Taft was in Dharamshala. Two days after her visit, the state department spokesperson mentioned the need for a dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama. US intervention could help the two open a new chapter of negotiations. If all goes well, the Dalai Lama can quell his fears and China can remove an irritant.

And that leaves only a very nervous India to do some tightrope walking.

The four main Tibetan Buddhist orders or lineages:

*Gelugpa: Founded in the 14th century. Headed by the Dalai Lama. The Panchen Lama is its next most important leader. Exile headquarters at Dharamshala.

*Kagyupa: Founded in the 11th century. Headed by Gyalwe Karmapa, who is head of the sub-order Karma Kagyu. Exile headquarters at Rumtek, Sikkim.

*Sakyapa: Founded in the same period as Kagyupa. Headed by the current hereditary successor, Sakya Trinzin. Exile headquarters in Dehradun. The only school whose leader marries and produces an heir.

*Nyingmapa: The oldest school, which was universally accepted in Tibet till the 11th century. It has no designated head.

There is no hierarchy of importance among the heads of the various sects. The Dalai Lama, by virtue of being the political leader, however, does have more influence over the others. The first Lama ruler of Tibet was from the Sakya school, who in 1244 captured power with the help of the Mongol Khans. This line retained power till 1369. Since then, Beijing has always played a role in Tibetan politics.

During 1369-1642, it was the Kagyu period when the Kamarpas' representatives ruled. They were violently overthrown by the Gelugpa, who enthroned the fifth Dalai Lama. The present Dalai Lama is the 14th.

The Lamas: Who's what

The Karma Kagyu conflict: After the 16th Karmapa, Ranjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981) died, the order's four high priests —Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, Tai Situ Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche — began looking for his reincarnation. Shamar Rinpoche was accused of engineering a reincarnation in the royal family of Bhutan, which the Bhutanese government denied. Tai Situ then "found" the reincarnation in Tibet. Just before this claim, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche died in a car crash in April 1992. Shamar accused Tai Situ of colluding with the Chinese and of forging the 16th Karmapa's letter (the basis of identifying the reincarnation.) But both the Dalai Lama and China recognised Tai Situ's candidate. Soon, violence erupted at Rumtek. Shamar left Rumtek and is now in Delhi. In 1994, he enthroned a rival Karmapa. This had also led to a clash.


Minister Urges Karmapa To Take Over Monastery

Indian Minister Urges Tibetan Monk To Take Over Rumtek Monastery

19 January 2000 BBC

Federal Law Minister Ram Jethmalani Tuesday [18th January] favoured the 17th Karmapa Urygen Trinley Dorje taking over the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, saying he had always lobbied for it.

"I have always lobbied for it. And I don't change my views", he told PTI here. "I have been writing on the subject for long. It is nothing new", Jethmalani said, when asked to comment on a report in a section of the press that he, along with Defence Minister George Fernandes, was lobbying within the government to install the Karmapa as head of the Rumtek monastery.

Jethmalani, however, said, "I do not know about George" (Fernandes), "but I am not lobbying within the government. Ab to agey dekhna hai" (now it is time to look ahead), he said.

Justifying his stand, the law minister said, "I firmly believe that in this type of matters, we should go by what the Dalai Lama says. In this case, Dalai Lama has anointed Karmapa. He should head the Rumtek monastery."


China confirms   


China confirms Karmapa left Tibet without permission

BEIJING, Jan. 20 (Kyodo) -- A senior official of the Chinese government's public relations agency said Thursday the Karmapa lama, a teenage Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, left Tibet without permission from China, confirming for the first time the boy lama's departure for India was unauthorized.

The official of China's Information Office of the State Council said the 17th Karmapa, the 14-year-old leader of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, bypassed immigration procedures when he left for India late last year.

"If he returns, it is all right. Even if he does not come back, it cannot be helped," the official said, suggesting the Chinese government's pothe monastery or the Chinese leadership.

But a U.S. branch of the Kagyu sect on Jan. 8 dismissed the Chinese government's explanation of the spiritual leader's departure, saying he secretly left the country because Beijing refused to grant him a visa, despite repeated requests.


Dalai Lama stops short of pleading asylum for Karmapa   


Dalai Lama stops short of pleading asylum for Karmapa

Indian Express (IE)
January 23, 2000

By Neerja Chowdhury

NEW DELHI, JANUARY 22: The Dalai Lama has written to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee urging him to accord protection to Orgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa of the Kagyu sect who fled Tibet and arrived in India early this month, and to allow him to stay in India and get his education here.The Tibetan leader's missive to Vajpayee is an endorsement of the request made by the Karmapa himself to the Government to be allowed to stay on in India and pursue his religious activities.

The Dalai Lama is learnt to have said that the 14-year-old Karmapa was a person of immense spiritual significance and he should be allowed to go through appropriate and traditional training by teachers who were all in India.

Confirming this, Tashi Wangdi, Minister of Religious Affairs of the Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamsala, told The Indian Express that now the Government had all the information it had sought. ``We are waiting for the Government's response.''

Asked if the Karmapa had also sent his request in writing, Tashi Wangdi said: ``Technically, the first step has to be taken by the person himself. Only then can others plead his case. Whatever the Karmapa wants, to carry out his religious responsibilities, would have the support of His Holiness and the support of the Tibetan administration.''

The Government appears to be in no hurry to decide. It is buying time and has written to the Chinese Government seeking information about the circumstances surrounding the 14-year-old Lama's flight from Tsurphu monastery in Tibet. It has yet to hear from the Chinese.

Caught by surprise, the Ministry of External Affairs has been extremely cautious in its response, even though Defence Minister George Fernandes said that he could be allowed to stay on for a while.

The Lama's arrival has put New Delhi in a dilemma. It runs the risk of annoying the Chinese, with whom its relations are slowly improving. Sending him back would show India in a bad light as not only inhospitable, but also as having succumbed to China.

While not inclined to give the Karmapa ``political asylum,'' it is trying to evolve what kind of status it should confer on him. Some hope that it may be possible for a third country like the US to take him.

In his note to Vajpayee, the Dalai Lama has reportedly not sought ``political asylum'' for the Karmapa. Asked about it, Wangdi replied, ``I have never used that term.''

Ajit Panja, Minister of State for External Affairs, possibly gave a clue to what might be a way out when he said that India was a home of all religions and it welcomed all kinds of religious leaders.

The Government is also concerned about the ``Sikkim angle.'' A couple of years ago, the Chief Minister of Sikkim had written to the Centre urging it to let the Lama come to Sikkim. When the 16th Karmapa fled Tibet in 1959, the then Chogyal of Sikkim had offered him a site not far from Gangtok at Rumtek to build his monastery there on the lines of the Tsurphu monastery, which is the original seat of the Kagyu sect.

The 17th Karmapa's advisors would like him to head the Rumtek monastery but there are other claimants to it even though the Dalai Lama, who is considered the highest religious authority of Tibetans, had in 1992 given recognition to Dorje as the incarnation of the 16th Karmapa who died in 1981. South Block is worried that the conflict over Rumtek may come to destabilise the political situation in Sikkim. As it is, China does not recognise the union of Sikkim with India.

Aware of the concerns of the Government, both the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa have made themselves incommunicado. And Tashi Wangdi said: ``Though we are waiting for the Indian Government's decision, we would not be surprised if it takes a few weeks.''


India protesters urge asylum for Karmapa Lama   


India protesters urge asylum for Karmapa Lama

JAMMU, India, Jan 22 (Reuters) - More than 5,000 Buddhists braved Himalayan cold on Saturday in a demonstration that urged the Indian government to grant political asylum to a high-ranking Tibetan lama who left his homeland for India.

The 17th Karmapa Lama, the highest Tibetan lama whose authority is recognised by China, fled Lhasa and arrived in Dharamsala in India on January 5 after an arduous 1,400-km (875 mile) journey through the snowbound Himalayas.

An organisation representing Buddhists in Ladakh, the mountainous enclave of the Kashmir region whose culture is close to that of Tibet, said in a statement that a delegation of Ladakhis would soon meet Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Delhi to press for the teenaged lama to be given asylum.

"Our country stands for humanitarian values and ideals. Granting of asylum and hospitality...will stand with those lofty ideals of the country," Tsering Samphel, president of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) was quoted as saying in a statement faxed to Reuters in Jammu, winter capital of the Jammu and Kashmir province.

The statement said the protesters walked through the streets of Leh, the headquarters of Ladakh, after which Samphel addressed them. Leh, located at a height of 11,500 feet, is one of India's coldest places.

Indian officials say the lama has not asked yet for asylum.

The boy monk's journey revived memories of the escape of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to India four decades ago.

Thousands of Tibetans led by the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, nine years after China's communist army entered Tibet and overthrew the Buddhist theocracy there.

The 14-year-old Karmapa Lama created a religious and diplomatic storm when he arrived in Dharamsala, the Indian headquarters of the Dalai Lama, who runs a Tibetan government in exile from the Himalayan town.

The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for advocating a non-violent campaign for genuine autonomy to preserve Tibetan language and culture.

China says the boy lama left Tibet to collect symbolic ritual implments that belonged to the previous Karmapa Lama, leaving the door open for his return.

In a rare act of unity between Beijing and the Dalai Lama, both sides


The Secret Report Of Tibet's 10th Panchen Lama   


The Secret Report Of Tibet's 10th Panchen Lama Available Online For The First Time (TIN)

A confidential report produced by the 10th Panchen Lama, condemned by Mao Zedong and kept a closely-guarded secret in China for 34 years goes online for the first time in both English and Chinese on 28 January 2000.

The report, known as the 70,000 Character Petition and probably the most important text in modern Tibetan history, is being made available free of charge on http://www.tibetinfo.net, the website of the London-based Tibet Information Network (TIN). The Petition is being published online to mark the 11th anniversary of the death of the 10th Panchen Lama.

When the Petition was sent to Mao Zedong in 1962, the Panchen Lama was the most senior religious leader remaining in Tibet and titular head of the Tibetan Government. Mao denounced the Petition as "a poisoned arrow shot at the party" and its author as a "reactionary feudal overlord". Two years later the Panchen Lama was condemned without trial as an enemy of the people, and spent most of the following 14 years in prison or under house arrest.

Believed to be the most extensive internal criticism of Chinese Communist policies ever submitted to the leadership, the 70,000 Character Petition remained secret for 34 years, seen only by those in inner Party circles in China. It documents the mass arrests, excessive punishment and executions of Tibetans that followed the 1959 Uprising in Tibet against Chinese rule, and the starvation in Eastern Tibet that resulted from policies implemented as part of Mao's Great Leap Forward at the end of the 1950s.

In 1996 a copy of the Petition reached the Tibet Information Network and TIN's founder-director Robbie Barnett had it translated into English. TIN published the text in both English and Chinese as "A Poisoned Arrow" in January 1998.

Prior to the publication of his Petition the 10th Panchen Lama had often been portrayed as a Chinese puppet, co-operating with the Chinese authorities rather than going into exile. This "patriotic" image was encouraged by both Beijing and the government in Lhasa. Less than a year ago he was described in a speech by a top Tibetan official as "a long-tested friend" who was "in support of the CCP leadership at every historical stage from Tibet's revolution, building, to reform and opening up". His 1962 Petition, together with speeches he made in 1987 and 1989, give the lie to these claims. He is now seen as having done the best he could, under very difficult circumstances, to safeguard the interests of Tibetans.

"The late Panchen Lama's Petition is as relevant today as ever," says TIN's current director, Richard Oppenheimer, "particularly in the light of the arrival in India earlier this month of another of Tibet's most senior religious figures, the 17th Karmapa. He too has been portrayed by Beijing as being a "patriotic" figure, loyal to the Party. In the case of the late Panchen Lama, we felt it was important to make this key document available via the Internet, in Chinese as well as English, to enable a wider audience to decide for themselves his place in history."

Notes

1. Sample pages from the Petition of the 10th Panchen Lama are available now at http://www.tibetinfo.net The full text of the Petition will be available online, also at www.tibetinfo.net, from 0001hrs (GMT) on Friday 28 January 2000.

2. TIN's original publication, "A Poisoned Arrow", is still available in book form, including a chronology and additional key historical documents that are not provided online. To order, please email Tibet Information Network on tin@tibetinfo.net or fax on +44 (0)20 7814 9015.

3. Tibet Information Network (TIN) is an independent news and research service that collects and distributes information on what is happening in Tibet. Based in London, with newsgathering centres in India and Nepal, TIN monitors political, social, economic, environmental and human rights conditions in Tibet and publishes the information in the form of news updates and a range of reports. TIN is a registered charity


Letter On Escaped Boy Lama   


Tibet's Dalai Lama Issues Letter On Escaped Boy Lama

(BBC 1/28/00)
Tibetan spiritual head the Dalai Lama has said that it would be a terrible mistake on the part of the Indian government, both in respect of the country's image as well as in substance, if Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje, who escaped from Tibet, was not allowed to stay in the country. In a letter to former Lok Sabha (lower house of India's parliament) Speaker Rabi Ray, the Dalai Lama, however, said he understood to some extent the cautious stand of the Indian government on this issue. The 17th Karmapa escaped from Tibet with his sister Ngodup Palzam, a nun, and five others and reached India on 5th January. The Dalai Lama, in his letter dated 18th January, also thanked Ray for his stand on the issue of granting asylum to the Karmapa. The copy of the letter was released by Ray to the press Friday [28th January].

Stating that he was convinced that the 14-year-old Dorje had escaped from Tibet because he did not find it possible to pursue his religious studies and practices satisfactorily there, the Dalai Lama said he had clear evidence that contrary to superficial appearances, there was much restriction and suppression of religious freedom in Tibet. Meanwhile, the escape of the monk from Tibet to India has triggered off a controversy among the three living regents of northeastern state of Sikkim's influential Rumtek monastery with the majority supporting him. The Dalai Lama said that in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee he had mentioned that the Karmapa's conduct in the past clearly indicated a strong character and correct stand on issues relating to his religious practice and welfare of Tibetan people. Unfortunately, there was factionalism within the Karma Kargyu sect itself which had complicated the matter, the Dalai Lama said referring to the Shamar group and the Situ group.

Despite this, I believe if the young Karmapa can remain above these factions and concentrate on his studies, he would definitely be able to make considerable contribution not only to his own traditional lineage but also to Tibetan Buddhism in general, he said. While two regents of Rumtek, Tai Situ Rimpoche and Gyaltsen Rimpoche, hailed Dorje's selection as the 17th Karmapa, another regent, Shamar Rimpoche, opposed it choosing another Tibet-born boy Thaye Dorje. The controversy over the reincarnated head of the rumtek monastery, which has almost 300 monasteries under it across the globe, erupted in 1981 following the death of the 16th Karmapa, who left behind "a sacred letter of prediction" to choose his successor. With Shamar Rimpoche based in Delhi, Buddhists in Sikkim supported Trinley Dorje.


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