Tibetan leaders in exile defend Dalai Lama after controversial video

New Delhi, Apr 14 (EFE).- Leaders of the Tibetan government in exile denounced Friday a “smear campaign” promoted by China after a controversial video in which the Dalai Lama tells a child to “suck my tongue” during a public event.

The Tibetan leader’s words were taken out of context, the leaders alleged.

“This was a public event in front of more than 120 youngsters and took place when the mother of the boy was literally next to him,” Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, member of the Tibetan parliament in exile, told EFE.

“On top of that, the basic understanding of an 87 year old celibate, who is the 14th Dalai Lama, accusing him of such (an) atrocious matter is beyond our imagination,” he added.

The controversial video was recorded during an event in February but released on social media earlier this week.

The video shows the Dalai Lama kissing the young boy on the lips during an event in the presence of other adults and then touching foreheads with him.

“Can you suck my tongue?” the Buddhist leader then asks, before sticking out his tongue.

Another parliamentarian in exile Dorjee Tseten told EFE the video was taken out of context and alleged a Chinese strategy to “tarnish” the Dalai Lama’s image.

“The Tibetan community has been deeply hurt and saddened that without a proper investigation or research his Holiness has been accused,” he said.

These comments came a day after the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Penpa Tsering, called the controversy “motivated.”

“I find that the boy is fine. He had spoken well after the event and the mother was also fine. (…) All the 120 students who were there in that inaugural in that event had no complaints whatsoever,” Tsering had said at a press conference in New Delhi.

Tsering said the political angle of this incident “cannot be ignored,” noting that according to his investigation the video may be due to “Chinese sources.”

Following the uproar over the video, the Dalai Lama’s office released a statement apologizing to the boy and his family “for the hurt his words may have caused.”

“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident,” the statement added.

The Dalai Lama also triggered a controversy in the past, when he said that if he was succeeded by a woman, she would have to be “more attractive.”

Born as Lhamo Dondhup, the 14th Dalai Lama was born on Jul. 6, 1935 in Taktser in eastern Tibet and was named the next spiritual leader of his community at the age of two.

He was forced to flee to India along with thousands of his compatriots after a significant number of Tibetans took up arms in 1959 in what turned out to be a failed uprising against Chinese rule over the region that was eventually crushed by the People’s Liberation Army.

He has since continued to fight for greater autonomy for Tibet based on the principles of non-violence, a form of struggle that was internationally recognized when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Tibet, a mountainous region spread over a plateau in the Himalayas – with an average elevation of around 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) – has historically grappled to assert its sovereignty and autonomy from China, which insists it has been a part of its territory for centuries. EFE


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