The Dalai Lama has issued an apology after a video emerged on social media showing him kissing a young boy on the lips and asking him to “suck” his tongue.
The Tibetan Buddhist leader issued an apology Monday after the video showing him inappropriately kissing and touching a young boy in northern India went viral.
The incident was filmed on February 28 but emerged on social media on Easter Sunday.
The video was captured at an event in the town of Dharamshala where the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is headquartered in exile.
The disturbing footage shows Gyatso kissing the little boy on the lips and then asking him to “suck” his tongue.
A boy, who has not been identified, had asked the 87-year-old Nobel Prize winner whether he could hug him.
Gyatso responded by saying, “Okay — come,” and inviting the child onto the stage.
Gyatso indicated that before they could hug, he first wanted a kiss on the cheek.
After the child complied, Gyatso pointed to his lips, saying, “Then I think finally here also.”
He then clasped the boy’s chin, pulled it toward him, and kissed the child on the lips.
Gyatso was apparently not yet satisfied.
After a loaded pause, he said, “And suck my tongue.”
The boy appeared to pull away, but Gyatso claimed one last hug.
Nobody in the audience intervened or mounted a protest.
WATCH (Warning: Disturbing content):
🤢 This is an alarming scene! The Dalai Lama, who has had ties to NXIVM in the past, caught on camera trying to make advances to an Indian boy.
You can clearly see the boy's body language as he yanks back the first time, then throws his head upward as the Dalai-Lama says "SUCK… pic.twitter.com/CorBr8tiDz
— NATLY DENISE (@NatlyDenise_) April 9, 2023
Weeks after the incident, Gyatso’s office issued a statement claiming the Dalai Lama “often teases people.”
“A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug,” the statement reads.
“His Holiness 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.”
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” the statement added.
“He regrets the incident.”
The New York Post reported that some Indians blasted the incident as “creepy” and “disgusting.”
Meanwhile, other staunch supporters of the 87-year-old Buddhist leader suggested he had simply been “joking around.”
“Teasing people or plain distasteful?” broadcast journalist Griha Atul tweeted in response to the Gyatso’s apology.
“This incident can brand him a pedophile. Period!”‘
A prominent Delhi-based child rights group, Haq, emphasized in a statement to CNN that this was not a culturally excusable or specific invitation.
“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,” said the rights group.
China, antipathetic to Tibetans who seek independence, has long been critical of the Dalai Lama and censored his content online.
Beijing will likely exploit this episode in future propaganda efforts against Tibetan sovereigntists.
Gyatso has previously made headlines for suggesting that President Donald Trump “lacks moral principle.”
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