(TibetanReview.net, Apr14’23) – A video purportedly showing the Dalai Lama kissing a young boy and asking him to suck his tongue at a public event is a tailored one and pro-China sources have used it to instigate attacks on the Nobel Peace laureate, Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the executive head of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA, otherwise known as the Tibetan Government-in-Exile), has said Apr 13. And while the Karmapa, one of Tibet’s top religious figures, has indicated that the allegations are entirely incompatible with what we all know all too well about the Dalai Lama, China’s official media has expectedly played up the incident but expressed disappointment that the exile Tibetan leader was likely “get away with his most recent scandal”.
Tibetan people have been hurt by the insinuations made over the viral video, he has said, addressing a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia in New Delhi.
“The clip being circulated was tailored and through investigation, we found that the initial instigators were pro-Chinese sources. That explains the motivation behind making this video clip viral,” he has said.
The video from a Feb 28 event had gone viral last week and generated widespread outrage. The 87-year-old spiritual leader ‘s office later offered an apology to the boy and his family.
Tsering said the scale and extent of the orchestrated smear campaign showed that the political angle cannot be ignored, adding, “It needs no explanation as to who would gain from maligning the image, reputation and legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
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Tsering has explained that during the event, the Dalai Lama asked the child “to look at those good human beings who create peace, and happiness and not follow those who kill other people”. He has called the controverted gesture as one made in an “innocent grandfatherly affectionate demeanour” followed by a “jovial prank” with the tongue.
“And that was meant for amusement for others. Now, who’s the victim? The boy is not complaining, his mother is not complaining. The victim here is, His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” the CTA Sikyong has added.
Tsering has also said, “People have perceived and interpreted it (video) in different ways. I don’t blame them, they may have their opinions, and they might see it their own way. Because the clip was tailored for that… and His Holiness was being labelled with all kinds of names.”
The Standing Committee of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile has also issued a statement on Apr 14, saying Tibetan people have been “deeply hurt and saddened by the misinterpretation” being given to the video incident, “where without proper research, irresponsible and careless sort of explanations and comments were being given to it in the media.”
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China’s official media as well as its embassy in Sri Lanka has attacked the Dalai Lama over the incident. Giving a deliberately lurid description of what has been criticised as a tailored video clip, and playing up the online criticisms it has generated, China’s official globaltimes.cn Apr 11 said, “The Dalai clique has long engaged in secessionist attempts, with reported support of CIA, aiming at separating Xizang from China.”
Besides, in a lengthy commentary, the globaltimes.cn Apr 13 launched a scathing propaganda-laced, Cultural Revolution-style denigrations of the Dalai Lama while expressing disappointment that the exile Tibetan leader was likely to “get away with his most recent scandal”.
“It seems the 14th Dalai Lama is likely to get away with his most recent scandal under the protection of numerous Western media sources, which have hurriedly whitewashed the monk’s obvious impropriety toward an innocent child, an action that has led many to question the sanitized image of the so-called spiritual leader,” the commentary said.
Likewise, another globaltimes.cn report Apr 12, while again accusing the Western media outlets of covering up what it called negative news about the Dalai Lama, quoted Nie Shujiang, an associate professor at the Guangming School of Journalism and Communication of China University of Political Science and Law, as saying, “whenever there is a political need, the Dalai Lama can be portrayed as a fighter. In reality, he is just a separatist under the banner of religion.”
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Meanwhile, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism and who escaped from Chinese-ruled Tibet towards the end of 1999, aged 14, citing lack of religious freedom, has said in a statement on social media that the Dalai Lama has spent his entire life cherishing others more than himself, practising “bodhichitta”.
“No matter what he thinks or says, he is always nonviolent and altruistic, pure in his intentions, and free of deceit or duplicity. On just seeing him or hearing him speak, many people feel certain in their hearts that he is the embodiment of love and compassion,” the Karmapa, now a Dominican citizen after a period of stay in India, has said.
“When he meets people, whether friends or strangers,” the Karmapa has said, “the Dalai Lama speaks freely, without any reservation or cautiousness, as if they were long-time friends, and treats them lovingly.”
“Sometimes he does playfully tug on someone’s beard, or tickle them, or pat them gently on the cheek or nose. This is just how he normally is, and it shows no more than his genuine delight and love for others,” he has added.
The Karmapa has also said the Dalai Lama has sacrificed his own needs and wants for the sake of world peace and harmony and even as he approaches his 90th birthday, his resolve has never faltered.
“If we take a step back and think, we can see that he is a jewel for the entire world,” he has added.