Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 10 September 2018:
Abuse victims want to speak to Dalai Lama in the Netherlands
Victims of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers and monks make an urgent appeal to the Dalai Lama. They ask for a meeting during his visit to the Netherlands of the coming weekend. The women want to offer him written testimonies of twelve victims from ten countries. Three of them are from the Netherlands. They also want to hand him a petition.
As far as we know, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people has never sat around the table with victims before. His office in India has not yet responded to the request, which was sent to him on Friday. …
In recent years, a series of prominent Buddhists have been discredited after accusations of sexual misconduct. The best known of them was the Tibetan Sogyal Rinpoche. He is the co-author of ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’, of which millions of copies have been sold worldwide. More than a year ago, Sogyal retired after eight followers accused him in an open letter of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of students. An independent researcher confirmed the allegations last week.
The Dalai Lama refused to dissociate himself from Sogyal Rinpoche until recently, although he has known since the early 1990’s that he had been repeatedly accused of serious sexual abuse and physical abuse.
Ten years ago, the Dalai Lama was guest of honour at the solemn opening of a temple of Sogyal in the south of France, together with the then French first lady Carla Bruni [the wife of Nicolas Sarkozy]. It was only after the accusation by the group of students last year that he changed course by saying that Sogyal “has disgraced himself”.
The twelve testimonies drawn up for the Dalai Lama are about five Buddhist teachers. According to Dutch Cecile (surname known to the editors), one of the victims who requested the conversation, the Dalai Lama is insufficiently aware of how Buddhist teachers use him to build an image of trustworthiness.
“If he honours someone with a visit and treats him like a friend, then many people think that that teacher is probably good all over. And that proves to be wrong, not only with Sogyal, but also with my teacher. It is really time for the Dalai Lama to become aware of how he draws people to these false leaders, and that from now on he will use his influence for the better.”
Most Buddhist groups in the Netherlands are members of the Buddhist Union of the Netherlands (BUN). According to Rob Hogendoorn, who investigates abuse in Buddhist circles, 20 of the 45 member organisations have been discredited because of accusations of sexual abuse by the spiritual leader(s). A few examples:
Founder Sogyal Lakar, with the title Sogyal Rinpoche, has been accused by dozens of pupils of all kinds of abuse since the 1990s. A British law firm hired by Rigpa confirmed last week that several students were “seriously physically, emotionally and sexually” abused by him.
The accusations against teachers go back to 1983, according to a recent report. Shambhala head Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo, who is called Sakyong Mipham, is said to have used, eg, volunteers “for his own sexual satisfaction”. Mipham resigned in July after nine Shambhala managers had already resigned.
A Swiss woman has filed a criminal complaint against founder Namkha Rinpoche for “extensive sexual abuse“, the Volkskrant daily wrote at the beginning of this year. A former board member of the Dutch branch confirmed to the newspaper that “women were pressured to have sex with Namkha Rinpoche”.