A Cult, a Fake Gov't & US-funded NGOs Hold Panels Panning China
Plus the bizarre story of Human Rights Watch's China Director's intro to activism.
This is part two of a three-part investigation into the IRF Summit. The first part is available here.
My experience attending panels at the three-day IRF Summit in Washington, DC was limited to ones focusing on the alleged crimes of China, which I believed were the most interesting from a geopolitical perspective. Heavily involved in these events were organizations and individuals with close links to the US government, some having worked for it, as well as powerful think tanks, human rights NGOs and foreign separatist movements. One fugitive who spoke on a panel had previously served as a spokesman for a now-defunct separatist group that included in its ranks a man who plead guilty to harboring explosives.
Meanwhile, an official of the Central Tibetan Administration spoke candidly about the goals of Congress in pushing for a US consulate in Tibet.
In all, the IRF Summit featured 35 roughly one-hour “concurrent breakout sessions,” of which seven were about China, accounting for one-in-five of them. Additionally, much of the “plenary sessions,” which went on much longer and were hosted in the metal detector-protected Regency Ballroom, focused substantially on China.
Breakout sessions focused on China included “Forced Organ Harvesting and Global Impact,” “Boycotting the Beijing Olympics,” “Chen Guangcheng Speaks about Religious Freedom in China,” “China’s Criminalization of Islam in East Turkestan: The Policy Agenda,” “Religious Freedom and Rule of Law Under Xi Jinping,” “Persecution of Tibetans’ Religious Freedom,” and “Taiwan: A Leading Voice for Religious Freedom.”
Other breakout sessions included “Emerging Threats to Religious Liberty from Progressive Policies,” which was hosted by the Heritage Foundation. “In recent years individuals and communities that adhere to and profess beliefs that are considered insufficiently progressive or ‘woke’ — such as protecting the unborn, defending marriage as a union of one man and one women, or recognizing the immutability of biological sex — have increasingly been experiencing violations of their rights to religious freedom and speech,” states the IRF Summit program.
One Korea Network also hosted an event, however no title or description were provided.
ADF International hosted an event entitled “Promoting international religious freedom: How students and young professionals can make a difference.” Another event was entitled “Religious Freedom Benefits Business and Business Can Help Advance Religious Freedom.”
Due to these sessions being “concurrent,” it was impossible for me to attend everything. Moreover, one event entitled “Corporate Global Supply Chains: Avoiding Entanglement and Protecting Freedom” was held privately, however I suspect it may have been focused on Xinjiang, China. It was hosted by an organization entitled “1792 Exchange.” 1792 is the year that the New York Stock Exchange was founded with the Buttonwood Agreement. There is not much information available about this organization and their website merely states “coming soon.”
Freedom for Falun Gong, Freedom from Malign Alien Influence
Unsurprisingly, the panel on forced organ harvesting was hosted by Falun Dafa Association of Washington, DC. Falun Dafa is another name for Falun Gong, a far-right anti-communist regime change cult that believes Donald Trump was “sent by heaven to destroy the [Chinese] Communist Party,” as The Grayzone has reported. Through their newspaper The Epoch Times, Falun Gong blew $1.5 million in just six months on Facebook ads promoting Donald Trump.
Falun Gong’s similarities to the Church of Scientology are difficult to ignore: both are well-funded operations claiming that they can cure physical and mental ailments. Both claim that aliens are corrupting humans. Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi has stated “although alien beings haven’t attacked humankind, they know that a human body is the most perfect. They’ve thus taken a fancy to the human body and want to steal it.” Like L. Ron Hubbard, Li has portrayed himself as a superhuman messianic figure who “can walk through walls and levitate.”
One lecture by Li posted on the Falun Dafa website quotes the cult leader saying “Why do the inspirations people get make computers and technology develop with such tremendous speed? It’s done by that layer of the body that alien beings formed so as to control the human race.” In the same lecture he claims “there are people living in the ocean.”
“Let me tell you, if I weren’t teaching this Fa [Falun Gong’s philosophy] today, gods’ first target of annihilation would be homosexuals,” he says.
Because Falun Gong teaches that its meditation practices can cure sickness, there have been accounts of practitioners refusing necessary medical treatment. One former practitioner who blogged about leaving the cult was overwhelmed by the response from others “struggling to readjust to society” after abandoning the group. Yet they were also excited “that they can now listen to pop music; or eat sashimi; or have a beer; or have sex; or take up a hobby; or hang out with non-believers.”
“If you look at the English language Chinese government websites, the first thing they say about why Falun Gong is so bad... we’re racist or against racial integration, right? We have nothing against interracial marriage; I’m in an interracial marriage,” panelist Levi Browde, Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center said. Yet in the aforementioned lecture from Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi, he states “The way alien beings get human beings to shake free of the gods is to mix the races.”
Browde went on to absurdly claim that 70 to 100 million Chinese people are members of Falun Gong, or one out of every 13 people.
Another panelist, Weiyu Wang, claimed that he was imprisoned, tortured, and subject to forced labor for eight years because of his beliefs.
Jessica Russo, a board member of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH), blamed China’s grip over “all levels of [the US] government,” for the lack of interest in the supposed forced organ harvesting issue. DAFOH appears to be a front for Falun Gong despite its nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize and its acceptance at institutions like the United Nations. DAFOH Executive Director Torsten Trey has an author page on Falun Gong’s newspaper website where he has authored articles unrelated to organ harvesting, meanwhile DAFOH Deputy Director Mike He has facilitated events on “The Spirituality of Falun Gong.”
As The Grayzone has previously reported, yet another front for Falun Gong described as “independent” called the China Tribunal, which was cited during the panel, claims that somewhere between 60,000 and 90,000 organs are harvested per year. Pushing back on these claims, even the Washington Post has written that “research and reporting” by the “undercut these allegations.”
According to a video played during the session and produced by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China — yet another Falun Gong front — Falun Gong organs are better than your average Joe’s because “Falun Gong practitioners are healthier source for organs as they do not drink or smoke and do Qigong exercises regularly as part of their spiritual practice.”
Yet, “lawyers who have defended Falun Gong practitioners also reject allegations that those prisoners’ organs are being harvested,” the Washington Post reported.
The final speaker on the panel was Johnnie Moore, former Commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a position previously held by Anthony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Moore repurposed talking points from the Russiagate era to attack China, arguing that China’s banning him and other evangelicals from entering their country was “a part of their attempt to divide American society.”
“Unfortunately, when it comes to organ harvesting, what we're seeing [is a] relapse [of what] the Cultural Revolution is willing to do. Chief of which COVID-19. The Coronavirus ... it will be universally acknowledged, at least with Republicans and Democrats in this country, that Communist Party mismanagement ... infected the entire world,” he said, concluding “The path the Communist Party is on is a dead path.”
While serious reporting has discredited the claims of Falun Gong, the State Department is going full speed ahead. Just four days after the IRF Summit, State Department Spokesman Ned Price railed against China for their “campaign of repression against the Falun Gong movement and its millions of practitioners.”
Gitmo Girl and Her Quest to Cancel the 'Genocide Games’
The next panel I attended was focused on boycotting the Beijing Olympics in 2022, a topic I have previously covered. My previous investigation focused on how at least half of the groups involved in a campaign called #BoycotBeijing2022 have received financial backing from the US government regime change arm the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and organization that was cut out of the CIA. Little did I know that this was just one of several campaigns working to pressure the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Olympic sponsors, and athletes to boycott or otherwise protest Beijing’s hosting of the games.
The panel was hosted by the Coalition to Advance Religious Freedom in China, or China Coalition for short. It was moderated by Logan Carmichael, who serves as both the chair of the China Coalition and the Executive Director of China Aid. Carmichael introduced the China Coalition as a “diverse group of NGOs united to promote the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion for all people in China” that has “22 organizations as official participants representing Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners, the Church of Almighty God, the Underground House Church, and more.”
Carmichael failed to mention that the China Coalition also includes China Aid, the Church of Scientology and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a right wing think tank “that includes Nazi German soldiers in its count of historic deaths at the hands of communism,” as The Grayzone reported recently.
Carmichael briefed the audience on the failure that morning of an amendment submitted in Congress by Representative Chris Smith which would have forced a “strategy by the Biden administration to engage with the IOC on moving the 2022 Winter Olympics to a venue in a different country.”
“We are now seeing portraits of Jesus being replaced with those of Mao or Xi, Uyghurs in East Turkestan being put in re-education camps for having beards or Qurans in their house. Reports of mass organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, and the silencing of Tibetan Buddhists and the exile of the Dalai Lama,” Carmichael said. “Despite this, China will be hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022,” she lamented.
The first speaker Carmichael introduced was Rushan Abbas, Founder and Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs. Abbas has previously worked for Radio Free Asia, a US propaganda outlet that was founded by the CIA. The Campaign for Uyghurs website notes: “when Radio Free Asia launched its Uyghur service in 1998, Ms. Abbas was the first Uyghur reporter broadcasting daily to the Uyghur region.” She also worked for 11 years as a translator at the US torture prison Guantanamo Bay.
Abbas called out “Hollywood celebrities” and the NBA who are “supposed to be very vocal against any kind of social injustice. Where are they when the Uyghur women are facing government sponsored mass rape?” she asked.
She said that any country sending a delegation or athletes to the Beijing Olympics should “be counted as complicit in genocide.”
Speakers presented varying strategies on how to sabotage China’s hosting of the Olympics. Olivia Enos, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation, authored a paper in April arguing that the US “should lead an international coalition to pressure the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2022 Olympics for the purpose of selecting a new host city.” At the IRF Summit, she called on journalists to “increase their coverage of the severe human rights violations that are happening in China today.”
“There needs to be a consistent drumbeat from American media and from international media, highlighting the severe human rights violations,” Enos said, adding that the US could take “punitive action” against the IOC. She went on to compare Beijing hosting the Olympics to Nazi Germany doing so in 1936, a recurring talking point on the panel, while her paper notes that the US has boycotted the Olympics once before in Moscow in 1980.
“I do think that the comparison of Berlin with Beijing is an apt one, except that the Beijing hosting of the Olympics in 2022 is worse than Berlin,” said Reggie Littlejohn, “because in Berlin in 1936, Hitler had not yet started committing his genocide.”
Littlejohn is the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an organization which includes Bob Fu, president of China Aid, and the president of the World Uyghur Congress, an organization which seeks “the fall of China and the independence of East Turkestan,” on its advisory board. The organization held a protest in DC earlier that day to push for a boycott.
Together with the Committee on the Present Danger: China, an organization headed by Trump advisor Steve Bannon and neoconservative Islamophobe Frank Gaffney, Littlejohn’s organization launched genocidegames.org. Other supporting organizations listed on this website include China Aid and the East Turkestan Government-in-Exile, a fake government based in Washington.
Littlejohn sought to expand the conversation beyond China’s borders. “What about the fact that they unleashed the Coronavirus on the world which has killed possibly 3 million people, 600,000 in the United States? What about the fact that they're flooding our shores with fentanyl, which is killing people?”
“It just highlights our need to decouple from the Chinese Communist Party, we need to stop being so intertwined with them in trade, and also especially in our supply chains,” she said. Citing Speaker Nancy Pelosi taking the “unusual step” of sitting in on a congressional hearing in May focusing on boycotting the Beijing Olympics and voicing support for a boycott, Littlejohn claimed “everybody’s in agreement about at least a diplomatic boycott.”
The next panelist to speak was Candace Bryan Abbey, Washington Director of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice who was present on behalf of the Empty Box Campaign. The Empty Box Campaign is a coalition consisting of just the Lantos Foundation and the Human Rights Foundation. The latter hosts annual de-facto regime change activist boot camps and was founded by Thor Halvorssen Hellum, the son of a CIA asset and cousin of Venezuelan coup mastermind Leopoldo Lopez.
Empty Box Campaign’s website features an online game “where you take one of the 15 dictators that we have identified as not being worthy of attending the opening ceremonies and pick somewhere to send them, which is oddly satisfying, and then you can share that on social media,” Abbey explained.
The final panelist was Peter Irwin, Senior Program Officer at the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a near omnipresent figure at every anti-China breakout session I attended.
Uyghurs, Uyghurs, Uyghurs
The following day, I attended a panel called “China’s Criminalization of Islam in East Turkestan: The Policy Agenda” which was hosted by the Uyghur Human Rights Project and co-sponsored by the Uyghur American Association and the World Uyghur Congress. The Uyghur American Association is the US affiliate of the World Uyghur Congress.
In March, the Uyghur American Association disrupted a rally against anti-Asian racism with calls to “wipe out” China. Leading figures of this group run a gun club and hold military trainings with former US special forces, Ajit Singh, the pre-eminent journalist exposing the Uyghur human rights cartel, has reported for the Grayzone.
Nury Turkel, former president and co-founder of the Uyghur American Association and current commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, has claimed that “the National Endowment for Democracy has been exceptionally supportive” of the Uyghur American Association, “providing us with invaluable guidance and assistance” and “essential funding.” Because of the NED’s support, the Uyghur American Association and the Uyghur Human Rights Project “have gained a new level of influence and credibility among media organizations in the US and other countries,” according to Turkel.
For the years 2016 through 2019, the Uyghur Human Rights project has received more than a million dollars in funding from the NED.
The Uyghur American Association’s parent organization, the World Uyghur Congress has also received more than a million dollars in funding from the National Endowment for Democracy for the years 2016 through 2016.
The panel was moderated by Peter Irwin, Senior Programs Officer of the Uyghur Human Rights Project and formerly of the World Uyghur Congress. He said that the research conducted by the Uyghur Human Rights Project “shows fairly clearly that essentially Islam for Uyghurs in China today is essentially criminalized.”
“There’s a list of names that are not allowed, beards for men, hijabs for women, any expression of Islam, quite often is conflated with extremism and is called extremist behavior,” Irwin stated.
The first speaker was IRF Summit co-chair Sam Brownback who called on the Chinese government to “let the people freely practice their Islamic faith as they see fit,” an odd statement given that as Governor of Kansas, Brownback signed into law a bill that banned “state courts and agencies from using Islamic or other non-US laws when making decisions.” Under Brownback’s governorship, Kansas was the first US state to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program. Brownback also signed into law a bill that advocates said would prevent “gays, Muslims or other outsiders” from forcing “their way into Christian organizations” on college campuses, essentially allowing racial and sexual-based discrimination by student groups.
At the panel. Brownback stated that Chinese oppression of Uyghurs “won't end unless we really put the pressure on China about this.”
“I think this is the most egregious violation of religious persecution of a group in the world today,” he said, adding “I just think it's the most egregious state sponsored effort to wipe out a religious community. I think it's diabolical. I think it's completely wrong. It has to stop.”
The event then introduced video remarks from three US Representatives including Jim McGovern, Jennifer Wexton, and Michael McCaul.
McGovern, both co-chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, commented that China is “trying to erase the culture, identity and history of a distinct people. That is a crime against humanity. It is genocide.”
He said he is working in Congress to pass legislation to ban imports made from forced labor in Xinjiang and provide refugee relief to Uyghurs, and called on Congress to demand more sanctions against China from the Biden administration.
Rep. Wexton said she was proud of her colleagues for passing her Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, which requires US companies to audit supply chains for forced labor from Xinjiang.
“I’ve been outspoken on this issue as a member of the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, including speaking with Secretary of State Blinken about US efforts to support Uyghurs seeking refuge and to hold the PRC accountable,” Wexton said. “Our annual appropriations legislation that was passed out of committee recently also includes provisions that I fought for, including record funding for Radio Free Asia, which is key to countering PRC propaganda, as well as an official declaration that the oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang is genocide.”
Rep. McCaul railed against alleged “forced labor, forced sterilization, and abortions, torture, family separation and sexual abuse,” of Uyghurs, noting that he has worked with House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks “introduce a bipartisan resolution declaring these crimes as a genocide, which I'm proud to say passed out of committee unanimously.”
Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, was next to give a video address. Dolkun Isa, has met with NATO officials, Senator Ted Cruz, and Trump administration officials. He has also “met with ultra-Zionist group Bnei Akiva, whose leader once called for Israeli army to ‘take 300 Palestinian foreskins,’" journalist Ajit Singh has revealed.
Dolkun Isa blamed the Chinese government for the deaths of his parents under “unknown circumstances” and said that his brother was sentenced to life in prison by the Chinese government in “an attempt to silence me.” His brother, Hushtar Isa, has been accused of inciting terrorism.
Peter Irwin returned to the podium to talk about alleged persecution of Imams by the Chinese government, claiming that “being an Imam” is “essentially a punishable offense.”
“You’ll be sent to prison for 25 years,” he said. Another supposed crime in China: “having a Quran simply at home is possessing what they call illegal religious materials.”
The next speaker was Ataullah Sahyar, President of the East Turkistan Ulema Council, a little-known group of Islamic scholars focusing on Xinjiang which has no website and few references on the web. He claimed that “places of worship are destroyed, books and tools used to fulfill the belief of the people, such as the Holy Quran, prayer beads, and prayer rocks are collected and burned in front of the public” in Xinjiang and that ‘those caught with such things are punished with a prison sentence.”
“Uyghurs are not even allowed to use names like Abdullah or Mohammed,” he said, adding “I believe that the scale of oppression there is far worse than what is described here today.”
The next speaker was Elfidar Iltebir, a board member of the Uyghur American Association who has “taught the Uyghur language to US government employees.” She claimed that throughout that week, “we've been holding advocacy events with members of the Senate and House focusing mostly on Uyghur women rights, protection and the Uyghur Forced Labor and Prevention Act and also the resolution for the genocide.”
She noted that the White House had just sanctioned a slew of Chinese companies but said her organization would like to see more sanctions, and that they are demanding a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
Taking a question from the audience about meetings with the White House, she said that they held two last year.
The next speaker was Uyghur American Kalbinur Gheni who met with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just weeks before he declared China’s treatment of Uyghurs to be a genocide. She claimed her sister, a teacher, was imprisoned merely for praying at her father’s funeral and that the Chinese Communist Party has “detained 60 percent of Uyghur teachers.”
The following day, the final day of the summit, I attended a panel hosted by China Aid, an NGO led by Pastor Bob Fu. The IRF Summit program’s bio on Fu notes that he “was a student leader during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations for freedom and democracy.”
“Fu regularly briefs the State Department and Members of Congress,” the program notes. He is the Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Potentially the most powerful foreign policy think tank in the US, the CIA-linked Council on Foreign Relations was formed by a group tasked by President Woodrow Wilson to advise him on foreign policy. It has included many Secretaries of State, CIA directors, and even former presidents on its board.
At the China Aid panel, entitled “Religious Freedom and Rule of Law under Xi Jinping,” Mu’en Hua, son of imprisoned pastor Yang Hua, alleged surveillance and imprisonment of his father. Also present was media-favorite Khazak voice Gulzira Auelkhan who claimed she was detained in “six different concentration camps in Xinjiang” and was subject to forced labor, detention, unknown injections and other forms of torture at the hands of the CCP until “Bob Fu rescued me.” She made the absurd allegation that the CCP detains Uyghurs and Khazaks merely for saying “assalamualaikum,” an Arabic greeting.
Upon arriving to the United States, Gulzira Auelkhan claimed that Customs and Border Protection confiscated the clothes she had made during her forced labor and “listed the factory on the blacklist of American government sanctions.”’’
Scott Flipse, Director of Policy for the Bipartisan Congressional Executive Commission on China announced to the crowd that the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act had passed through the Senate the previous night “unanimously.”
Bob Fu was the next to speak, telling the crowd that Gulzira Auelkhan was “really just one out of — it could be as many as three million.”
“I think time is the essence,” Fu said. “This is the worst time of religious freedom [and] rule of law under this evil regime.” Fu said his so-called rescue operations are a “passive” route before calling for regime change, suggesting that instead there should be a focus on how to “terminate, end this 21st century genocide and this evil regime that continues to bully the whole world.”
The next speaker was Serikzhan Bilash, a Khazakh activist and leader of Atajurt Eriktileri (Volunteers of the Fatherland), a Kazakhstan-based group that devotes its time to compiling testimony of so-called “concentration camps” in China. It appears that he works closely with China Aid as he also took credit for rescuing Gulzira Auelkhan. In 2019, Atajurt volunteers met with the National Endowment for Democracy .
Serikzhan Bilash called out the Chinese government for undercounting the Khazakh population of northern Xinjiang to the whopping tune of 33.5 million. “We conducted around 30,000 video testimonials from Uyghurs and ethnic Khakakhs. We are the first team in the world [to] expose the genocide and the concentration camps to the world,” he said, going on to claim that Kazakhstan is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party.
“Last five years from the end of 2016, my team and I rescued tens of thousands of former detainees from Chinese concentration camps including Uyghur woman Tursunay Ziyawudun. Lately, she’s a worldwide eyewitness who told the world about government sex trade inside concentration camps,” he said. Serikzhan Bilash thanked Bob Fu for “rescuing” him from Kazakhstan and thanked the United States, adding “God Bless America.”
The next speaker was Baggio Leung, who was introduced as the “founder of Youngspiration, the first of two pro-independence legislators in Hong Kong.” The separatist activist was also the spokesman for the defunct Hong Kong National Front. When one of this group’s members, Louis Lo Yat-sun, was arrested for possession of triacetone triperoxide, an explosive, Baggio Leung sat in the public gallery during his bail hearings and admitted Lo was a member of his group. Louis Lo Yat-sun plead guilty after a judge accused him of creating “terror among citizens,” while Baggio Leung has since fled to Washington to avoid arrest.
Since arriving in DC, Baggio Leung started the Hong Kong Liberation Coalition in an effort to push for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics and “call for more sanctions” against China.
“The Chinese Communist Party just wants to wipe out an entire generation of Hong Kong, myself as an example,” he told the audience. “I was charged in local assembly, and was jailed for a month for such a ridiculous crime. And when I was released, I noticed that some people was always following me. We don't know who they are.”
“Now I'm on the wanted list again, for subversion, because I'm doing work here in Washington, DC. And I must reiterate here that China’s expansionist and coercive behavior are not only a problem for Hong Kong, not just for Asia, but also a threat to international order, and democracy around the world,” he said, further calling out China for denying “responsibility for spreading the CCP virus.”
Baggio Leung concluded, stating that the “leading role of the United States in dealing with the China problem has never been more important.”
Next up was former Congressman Frank Wolf, who pushed for President Biden to ban administration officials from meeting with anyone in the Chinese government “and not even take a telephone call.”
“They’re taking kidneys! Taking kidneys,” Wolf bellowed before recounting how he “snuck into Tibet in the early 90’s” and claiming there’s a genocide in Tibet. “I believe that the Chinese government will fall,” he said.
HRW’s Sophie Richardson's Intro to Activism
The final panel I attended was entitled “Persecution of Tibetans’ Religious Freedom” and hosted by the Office of Tibet in DC. This group is an outpost of the fake government of Tibet called the Central Tibetan Administration that claims the Chinese government is trying to “eradicate the Tibetan race,” and seeks a return of the Dalai Lama’s theocratic feudal rule in the region, as Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal and I have previously reported.
One author who left the sect wrote that she had “been in an authoritarian, thought-controlling cult, that disguises itself as representing the ‘highest teachings of the Buddha’… that uses the same techniques and engages in the same destructive behaviors found in the most dysfunctional of sexually abusive family systems: those that use religion to justify their abuse.”
In 1996, the Dalai Lama’s administration admitted to getting $1.7 million a year in funding from the CIA in the 1960s. More recently the Dalai Lama has worked with the National Endowment for Democracy, which has given $3,049,677 towards organizations for projects focused on Tibet in the years 2016 through 2019.
Often allying with right-wing causes, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly supported Israel, arguing that “the side of Palestine is dry and not green,” and that then-Israeli president Shimon Peres “I know him, he is genuine for peace.” Shimon Peres pioneered Israel’s secret nuclear weapon program.
More recently, the Dalai Lama received a million dollars from elite sex slave cult NXIVM and wrote the foreword to a book authored by its leader Keith Raniere, who was sentenced to life in prison for crimes like having his initials branded onto the bodies of female cult members.
The Dalai Lama is himself somewhat of a cult leader, having proclaimed to be capable of divination and learning through the process that he will live to be 113 years old. While he did not give remarks to the Office of Tibet, DC’s event, the Dalai Lama spoke later at a plenary session. The IRF Program notes that the Dalai Lama “has taken numerous actions in hopes of establishing an autonomous Tibetan state within the People’s Republic of China.”
The event began with Dr. Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, recounting how she got interested in the Tibet cause while studying Chinese history at a “small, very progressive school” called Oberlin College.
“We were supposed to be outraged about everything, all the time. And I got to be outraged my senior year that there wasn’t really anything in the curriculum about Tibet.”
“Instead of doing an honors thesis my senior year, I decided to fill in that gap in the curriculum to design a one-week winter term class about Tibet,” she said, adding it was her first effort as an advocate.
During the course, “the final person who came and spoke was Lodi Gyari,” Richardson said. Now deceased, Lodi Gyari was the Dalai Lama's special envoy to the United States and the chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet. “And I remember sitting in the classroom, I was 21 at the time, and listening to him and thinking ‘I know what I’m going to do with my life.”
“I want to say how grateful I am to the office [of Tibet in DC], to all of the people that work there, to their predecessors, to your counterparts in Dharamsala, how grateful I am for the opportunity to learn from you, to work with you. And I think we feel like we work alongside you,” Richardson said.
She went on to note that Human Rights Watch has “written extensively over the years, about different ways that the Chinese government has sought to effectively manage Tibetan Buddhism into becoming something unlike the real thing.”
The second speaker was Ngodup Tsering, Representative of the Dalai lama and Central Tibetan Administration to North America. The day prior to the event, Ngodup Tsering co-authored an opinion article with Sam Brownback.
At the breakout session, Ngodup Tsering said that Chinese President Xi Jinping is attempting to “assimilate or eliminate” Tibetan culture and that the Chinese Communist Party has killed 1.2 million Tibetans through starvation and torture.
“More than 6,000 monasteries were destroyed, and monks were disrobed and nuns were raped,” he said, later explaining that “the elimination of Tibetan as a race perhaps has been the main objective for a long time of the Chinese Communist Party.”
He railed against China’s ethnic unity law enacted last year, according to Chinese media to promote the idea that “Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times, and it is the common responsibility for the people of all ethnic groups to safeguard national reunification, strengthen ethnic unity and take a clear-cut stand against separatism.”
“The aim is to make pure Tibetan ethnicity, you know, unavailable,” Ngodup Tsering said.
Due to the absence of a planned speaker, the panel featured a lengthy question and answer section. I took this opportunity to ask about members of Congress pushing for the United States to open a consulate in Tibet, a topic I have previously covered for The Grayzone and a policy which has been pushed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“I know there are some that are in Congress that have pushed for a US consulate in Tibet and I’m just wondering how does that help the Tibetan people?” I asked.
Ngodup Tsering all but admitted to me the move was meant to help the United States spy on China. “If there was a consulate in Lhasa they would be able to know what’s happening in Tibet… The State Department has had a lot of difficulty, challenges, in trying to get the real things out of Tibet.”
“If there is a consulate they will keep a check on what’s happening in Tibet,” he told me.
From there, the Q&A devolved into a lengthy brainstorming session between Dr. Richardson and a Uyghur American Association boardmember Elfidar Iltebir on how to make her activism more effective. Richardson suggested she reach out to the Palestinian American community for support. Elfidar Iltebir responded that she had, unsuccessfully.
Following the lengthy back-and-forth, Peter Irwin of the Uyghur Human Rights Projects asked “where the Hell is UNESCO?” before attempting to answer his own question, blaming “Chinese influence” at the United Nations.
While the panel was supposed to be focused on Tibet, it quickly came to be focused on the Uyghurs; more or less a parable for the shifting priorities of the United States’ weaponization of Chinese minorities towards geopolitical ends.
And yet, about two weeks following the IRF Summit, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken flew to India and met with representatives of the Tibetan Central Administration, proving that the issue of Tibet is still very much alive in the minds of the State Department officials and the NGO class.
This is the second part of an investigation into the IRF Summit. In the next article I will reveal more about top Biden and Trump administration officials’ involvement in the summit and more.
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