Dalai Lama apologizes for asking child to “suck his tongue” in Tibet

The spiritual leader’s message on Twitter: “He makes fun of the people he meets in an innocent and playful way”

He kissed a child on the lips and then asked him to “suck his tongue”. The protagonist is the Dalai Lama, who is now apologizing after the video depicting the scene was shared on social media, going viral and sparking controversy. The spiritual leader’s office released a statement today which reads that “it wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as to his many friends around the world, for the pain that his words may have caused caused”. The Dalai Lama, the note continues, “regrets” for what happened. “His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and on camera,” the statement read. The events in question date back to February and took place in the hill city of Dharamshala, where the Buddhist spiritual leader lives.

In the video we see the boy approaching the 87-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner and asking him if he can hug him. The Dalai Lama welcomes him and pointing to his cheek invites him to kiss him, ”first here”. And then, again, she points to his lips and says ”now finally here too”. He then takes the boy by the chin and brings him to his mouth, kissing him. Finally, the Dalai Lama sticks out his tongue and asks the boy: ”Suck my tongue”.

On CNN, the group for the defense of children’s rights Haq: Center for Child Rights, based in New Delhi, said it wanted to condemn “any form of abuse against children”. And he explains that although “some mention the Tibetan culture on showing the tongue, this video is not about any cultural expression. And even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable.”