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Dalai Lama apologises for asking child to suck his tongue

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama ‘regrets’ the incident - SANJAY KUMAR

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama ‘regrets’ the incident - SANJAY KUMAR

The Dalai Lama has apologised for asking a young boy to suck his tongue and kissing him on the lips in a widely-shared video clip. 

The Tibetan spiritual leader, 87, “regrets” the incident, a statement from his office said on Monday. 

“His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused,” it said. 

“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” the statement read after a backlash from social media users. 

The video shows the Dalai Lama holding the boy, who has not been identified, under the chin and pulling him in for a kiss on the lips. 

The boy moves his head away but after a few more seconds of talking the Dalai Lama pokes out his tongue and asks, “can you suck my tongue”. 

Some people in the audience laugh and the child puts his tongue out slightly as he again moves his head towards the spiritual leader. 

The Dalai Lama then hugs the child and talks more with him, telling him to look up to “good human beings who create peace and happiness”.

The incident took place on Feb 28 during a speech the Buddhist monk was giving to recent Indian graduates in the city of Dharamsala, where he lives in permanent exile.

The Delhi-based Haq: Centre for Child Rights told CNN it condemns “all forms of child abuse”.

“Some news refers to Tibetan culture about showing tongue, but this video is certainly not about any cultural expression and even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable,” it said.

‘What did I just see?’

Twitter users slammed the video, calling it “disgusting” and “absolutely sick” after it started trending on Sunday.

“Utterly shocked to see this display by the #DalaiLama. In the past too, he’s had to apologise for his sexist comments. But saying - Now suck my tongue to a small boy is disgusting,” wrote user Sangita.

Another poster, Rakhi Tripathi, said: “What did I just see? What that child must be feeling? Disgusting.”

The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the world’s most well-known Buddhist figure, and has long led the movement for Tibetan autonomy.

He has lived in exile since a Tibetan uprising was crushed by Chinese forces in 1959. 

He won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize “for advocating peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”

Despite that, the Chinese government has accused the Dalai Lama of being a “violent separatist”, though he has never espoused violence as a means of achieving Tibetan independence. 

Beijing also routinely criticises and pressures world leaders and celebrities who meet with the Dalai Lama, or even if they send simple messages such as birthday greetings, in an effort to stub out his influence.

With increasing age, the spiritual leader has reduced the number of speaking appearances and interviews he gives. 

The 87-year-old has previously attracted controversy for saying if his successor as Dalai Lama was a woman, she would “have to be attractive”.

In 2018, he said Europe should be kept for Europeans when discussing rising numbers of migrants entering the continent. 

“The whole Europe (will) eventually become Muslim country? Impossible. Or African country? Also impossible,” he said.  

Reference: The Telegraph: Sophia Yan

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