Top Tibetan Leader Defends Dalai Lama Over Controversial Video, Blames Pro-Chinese Sources for Virality

The head of Tibet's government-in-exile, Penpa Tsering, has defended the Dalai Lama against accusations of inappropriate behavior in a viral video that showed the spiritual leader asking a child to suck his tongue. Tsering called the Dalai Lama's actions "innocent" and an example of his "affectionate behavior." The video, which has been viewed over a million times on Twitter, sparked international outrage and prompted some rights activists to label the incident as child abuse.

Tsering said on Thursday that the Dalai Lama's actions were misinterpreted, and the ensuing controversy had hurt the sentiments of his followers. He emphasized that the Dalai Lama has always lived in "sanctity and celibacy" and that his years of spiritual practice had taken him "beyond the sensorial pleasures."

Additionally, Tsering suggested that "pro-Chinese sources" were responsible for making the video go viral on social media, although he provided no evidence to support the claim. He added that the "political angle of this incident cannot be ignored."

The incident in question took place at the Dalai Lama's temple in Dharamshala on February 28. The video shows the Dalai Lama asking a young boy to kiss him on the cheek and lips after the child requested a hug. The spiritual leader then put his forehead to the boy's and stuck out his tongue, saying "and suck my tongue."

The Dalai Lama's office has issued an apology for the incident, stating that he wanted to apologize to the child and his family "for the hurt his words may have caused." The statement explained that the Dalai Lama "often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident."

This is not the first time the Dalai Lama has faced controversy. In 2019, during an interview with the BBC, he said that any future female Dalai Lama should be "attractive." His office later apologized for the remarks. The Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India since 1959, following an uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.