A U.S.-based abuse survivors’ network responded harshly to what the organization saw as a “minimizing statement” issued after the Dalai Lama kissed a young boy on the lips and then asked him to “suck” his tongue.
The 87-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader apologized Monday after a video of the encounter went viral — the incident occurred at an event in February at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamshala, India, where the exiled leader lives.
The Dalai Lama was reportedly taking questions from the audience when the boy asked if he could hug him. He invited the child up and is seen on video asking the boy to kiss him on the cheek, before taking the young boy by his chin and kissing him on the lips. The spiritual leader then extended his tongue and told the boy, “And suck my tongue.”
This prompted laughter from the audience — according to some reports, in ancient Tibetan culture the act of sticking out one’s tongue was seen as a greeting.
This sick, disturbing video of the Dalai Lama making a child suck his tongue emerged months ago, but it has only just now made waves on social media—prompting the “holy” man to issue an apology. Why wasn’t it a problem for him before it went viral? pic.twitter.com/riVqugvPgl
— Catch Up (@CatchUpFeed) April 10, 2023
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests released a statement saying they were “horrified” by the disturbing incident.
“We are as horrified as any viewer by the actions of the Dalai Lama. Our primary concern is with the innocent boy who was the subject of this disgusting request by a revered spiritual figure,” the group said in a statement.
“Additionally, it is just as disturbing to read the minimizing statement released on behalf of Buddhist enlightenment,” the release continued. “An 87-year-old man asking a young boy to perform a blatantly sexual act in a public setting is very disturbing. We feel it is important that every single person who sees, suspects, or suffers child sex crimes, regardless of the level of crime, contact law enforcement to report it.”
The office for the Dalai Lama said on Monday that the spiritual leader “wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused,” adding he “regrets” the incident.
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” the statement said.
In response to that remark, the abuse survivors’ network tweeted, “We (SNAP) would like to know how many other such ‘playful’ acts have occurred between the Dalai Lama and unsuspecting visitors.”
SNAP Statement – “His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.” We (SNAP) would like to know how many other such “playful” acts have occurred between the Dalai Lama and unsuspecting… pic.twitter.com/h09VBI74J8
— SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (@SNAPNetwork) April 10, 2023
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