‘Doctored’ Dalai Lama Video Is Chinese Cyber Bullying, Say Tibetans
DHARAMSALA, (IANS) – A viral video showing the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet and revered as a ‘living god’, asking a boy to “suck” his tongue has shocked the Tibetan community.
Many say the video in which the spiritual leader “kisses a child on the lips” was an attempt to vilify the Nobel Peace laureate who has spent decades trying to peacefully resolve China’s brutal occupation of his homeland Tibet.
“Love is the absence of judgment,” is one of the famous sayings of the Dalai Lama, 87, an icon of ahimsa and karuna (compassion) and the global face of the Tibetan exile movement.
Defending the Dalai Lama over the video row, Penpa Tsering, the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said the Tibetan people were hurt by the insinuations and alleged that “pro-Chinese sources” were trying to tarnish his image.
The Dalai Lama has often been quoted as saying China is built on lies and its officials are hypocrites. Often humorously he puts his index fingers either side of his head to mimic the devil’s horns while saying, “Some Chinese officials describe me as a demon.”
“His Holiness has lived nearly all of his life in the public eye and his life is as pure as of Tibet, the land of snowing mountains,” remarked Lhakpa Kyizom, an octogenarian woman living in McLeodganj.
She has been living in the quaint town with the snow-clad Dhauladhar ranges in the background along with her great grandchildren since the Dalai Lama arrived here in the early 1960s after fleeing the Chinese army crackdown in Tibet.
With fond memories of her homeland, another octogenarian woman Padma Dolma told this IANS correspondent while pointing towards his beard, “Sometimes he does playfully tug someone’s beard, or long moustache and tickle them, or pat them gently on the cheek or nose or ears. This is just how he normally is, and this shows no more than his genuine love for others.”
McLeodganj is in the northern hill district of Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama.
Joining the democratically elected political leader over the video row, former Tibetan parliamentarian Lobsang Yeshi said for over a month Chinese-sponsored cyber goons toiled rigorously inside Tibet and China to tarnish the image of the Dalai Lama by indicting him for sexual misconduct.
Standing in solidarity with His Holiness and the Tibetan people, who have endured unyielding aggression from China since the spiritual leader was pressured out of his native Tibet in 1959, Tibetan NGO Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) said the complete video, including interviews with the child and his mother, who was on stage throughout the interaction, provides essential context to this situation that has been dramatically sensationalized.
Both the mother and child express their happiness at meeting the Dalai Lama and say it was a “blessing” and “a really great experience.”
The family itself is reported to have sent a letter to the Dalai Lama apologizing for the uproar and expressing their continued, unwavering faith in him.
The Dalai Lama also issued an official apology saying he regrets the incident.
Amid the video row, Timur Shah handed over The Scheherazade Foundation Gold Medal Award for the 14th Dalai Lama for his humanitarian efforts and propagating peace in the world at the Office of Tibet in London on Friday.
A group of Tibetan leaders and activists from across the globe remarked, “Language, culture, and context define how people view any given situation. For Tibetans who see the video clip of the Dalai Lama’s interaction with a child at a public event in February, it is clear he is displaying his affection, warmth, and humor. It is through a lifetime of familiarity with the Dalai Lama that we understand his words and actions.”
Writer and activist Tenzin Tsundue, who was born in exile and recently trekked the Himalayas to create awareness about the 70 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet, said 26 years ago he had his first audience with His Holiness.
“His Holiness listened to my story (on sneaking into Tibet) in every detail with a childlike wondering. It was rare for an India-born graduate to go to Tibet and return alive. He then called me ‘pa-tuk’, little hero. I was 23. That was 1997. Since then, I have never stopped working for Tibet.”
Tsundue, known for his trademark red headband, had sneaked into Tibet secretly and alone, from Ladakh to fight China. He got arrested by the Chinese border police who interrogated and tortured him and locked him up in a prison.
Later when they couldn’t prove any of the charges against him, they threw him out of Tibet.
Firmly believing that the Tibetans are deeply hurt by all negativity directed at His Holiness, top Tibetan leader Penpa Tsering said: “Who is the victim? The mother is not the victim, the boy is not the victim. They are not complaining, the victim here is His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
Reacting to the media storm, thousands of people in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh last week joined a peace march in support of the Dalai Lama.