Exiled Tibetan parliament calls Dalai Lama video 'Chinese propaganda'

Exiled Tibetan parliament brands video showing Dalai Lama asking young Indian boy to ‘suck’ his tongue as ‘Chinese propaganda’ after the Buddhist spiritual leader faced backlash over interaction

  • Spiritual leader called out for video showing him asking child to suck his tongue
  • Exiled parliament backs office statement in saying the act was ‘playful’ in nature

Members of Tibet’s exiled parliament have claimed the viral video of the Dalai Lama asking a child to ‘suck his tongue’ has been shared worldwide as part of ‘Chinese communist propaganda’.

In the video, the top spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, 87, is seen to kiss a child on the lips before apparently asking him to carry out the inappropriate act.

Dorjee Tseten, a member of the parliament, said: ‘We need to understand the context within which this incident happened. 

‘It was, in fact, a public event and was being telecast live… anyone who has followed His Holiness closely knows about his personality and his playful nature.’

Speaking to concerns the video was being amplified for political reasons, Tseten said: ‘While recognising the genuine concern that the public may have, we also have to be mindful about the negative campaign being carried out by interest groups especially the Chinese communist regime.’ 

The video was filmed in February but has gained global attention and condemnation since

Tibet has a difficult relationship with China, existing as a de facto independent entity between 1911 and 1951.

Today, it is internationally recognised as a part of China. No nation recognises the Tibetan government in exile as the legitimate administration of the region.

The government in exile maintains Tibet was an independent state until it was invaded by the People’s Republic of China in 1949/50, as the Chinese civil war concluded. 

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Namgyal Dolkar, also part of the exiled government, reaffirmed the claims, adding: ‘It’s a very disturbing time for the Tibetans across the world… witnessing the impact of hyped media work and social media, how it can lead to huge misunderstanding especially when there are individuals and groups and people who are unable to understand the Tibetan socio customs…’

‘I find it very problematic, very disturbing, particularly as a Tibetan woman.’ 

The video was filmed at a public gathering in February at the Tsuglagkhang temple in Dharamsala, where the exiled spiritual leader lives.

He was taking questions from the audience when the boy asked if he could hug him.

The Dalai Lama invited the boy up toward the platform he was seated on. In the video, he gestured to his cheek, after which the child kissed him before giving him a hug.

The Dalai Lama then asked the boy to kiss him on the lips and stuck out his tongue.

‘And suck my tongue,’ the Dalai Lama can be heard saying as the boy sticks out his own tongue and leans in, prompting laughter from the audience.

It has drawn criticism from varied groups.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a US-based organization that supports the survivors of spiritual and religious abuse condemned the act in a statement shared on Monday.

It read: ‘We are as horrified as any viewer by the actions of the Dalai Lama.

‘Our primary concern is with the innocent boy who was the subject of this disgusting request by a revered spiritual figure.’

They added: ‘An 87-year-old man asking a young boy to perform a blatantly sexual act in a public setting is very disturbing. 

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in a ceremonial yellow hat arrives at the Tsuglakhang temple to give a sermon in Dharamsala, India, 7 March

‘We feel it is important that every single person who sees, suspects, or suffers child sex crimes, regardless of the level of crime, contact law enforcement to report it.’

A statement from the Dalai Lama’s office previously apologised for ‘the hurt his words may have caused’ and echoed that ‘his Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.’

The Dalai Lama has made the hillside town of Dharmsala his headquarters since fleeing from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. 

India considers Tibet to be part of China, though it hosts Tibetan exiles.

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