Peter Volz

7

Our guest this week is veteran External Affairs Director Peter Volz. Peter reflects on Trungpa Rinpoche as a master statesman and diplomat, the realm of vajra politics, how Shambhala is viewed by other Buddhist teachers and sanghas, and the need to train a new generation of Shambhala diplomats.

Listeners’ Comments

Dear Chronicles,

I very much disagree with Julia’s and Peter’s view of Bhutan. There are serious problems with the way the government is handling their human rights issues.

Information about the refugees from Bhutan is available every day. For example, here is the very first text I come to in the very first link I receive when I go to Google News and type in “bhutan human rights”:

Re: “Be like Bhutan,” Opinion, Nov. 13
Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness may not look so cheerful if human rights and other indicators are factored in. According to the U.S. State Department’s most recent human rights report, Bhutan restricts freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and association, and it prohibits the formation of human rights organizations and political parties.

I wrote a paper about the problem of their ethnic and racial policies two years ago and published it on the sangha-announce/sangha-talk lists. I no longer have the file but I do have a hardcopy of that paper, and if enough people are interested, I will re-key it in and make it available again.

Bhutan’s culture is worth preserving. Its thankga painters and practitioners are worth working with. But from my point of view, the government itself is corrupt and the fact that there are so many Shambhala-Bhutan initiatives, as Peter calls them, none of which specifically address this issue, is irresponsible and dangerous. It is painful to me that Julia, Peter, and other Shambhala representatives continue to avoid this difficult issue.

For further information on the refugee issue, please see:

Amnesty Intl has published five major reports on the Bhutanese refugee issue. Here is their 2005 report: http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/btn-summary-eng

Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=bhutan.

Here is a privately run site that aims to reach out and provide news and info on Bhutan. Many useful links. http://www.bootan.com/bhutan/news.shtml

Here’s a recent statement from the UN Human Rights Commissioner: http://www.bhutantimes.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=64

This is the online version of the brochure that was created by the Southern Bhutanese Refugee Support Group and distributed — discretely — at the conference in Antigonish: http://homepage.eircom.net/~paulbeara/

Regards,
Suzanne Townsend
Boutilier’s Point, Nova Scotia

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Dear Chronicles,

Quite a fascinating discusssion on Vajra Politics and one that is relevant to most people involved in the secular political environment as well.

In Great Britain there is a lot of talk about involving people in local democracy aka the Bhutan process of government, David Milliband, a Minister in the government, is involved in this a lot at the present time as also Hilary Benn at International Development.

Are they going to have a conference on Vajra Politics at Naropa? I think there would be a lot of outside interest in these aspects of governance – maybe also you could have it in Halifax.

People in UK increasingly fed up with the government not listening to them and recently there has been a corruption scandal involving loans for peerages. A police investigation is going on at the present time about this issue – strangely a Scottish crofter and MP brought up this allegation of corruption by referring to an old Act about the sale of peerages. I heard an interview with him on Radio 4, and as your Scottish mail man that Trungpa would send a Xmas card to, he was a very down to earth character and knew his constituents very well.

Glad to hear you are also interviewing Mr Springer and Mr Kolleeny about Vajra Politics as well – I look forward to these interviews.

Loved the St Peter joke too – substitute Halifax for Rome where would you put the house on the Citadel?

Best,
Rita Ashworth
Stockport, UK