Tibetan communities across India have held rallies in support of the Dalai Lama following the controversy over a video in which he was seen kissing a young boy. Protests led by Tibetan communities erupted in Darjeeling, Gangtok, Dharamshala, Ladakh, and Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, condemning the false allegations made in the misleading video.
The protesters called for an end to the defaming of the Dalai Lama and displayed placards such as 'Media, Stop the Misinterpretation' and 'We Support His Holiness'. The Monpa people, the Ladakh Buddhist Association, and six Tibetan associations held rallies and peaceful solidarity prayers in support of Dalai Lama, condemning the "media houses and media influencers who have misinterpreted the news and misguided innocent public."
Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) along with students’ groups from Spiti, Kinnaur and other areas of Himalayan region and local residents carried out a protest march to express solidarity with the Dalai Lama, who has been at the centre of a controversy over a video of him kissing a boy went viral.
A protest was held from McLeodganj to Dharamshala, with Tibetan school students, monks, and nuns in attendance. The protesters condemned media outlets for defaming the Dalai Lama and demanded apologies. The president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, Gompo Dhondup, stated that the media and social media influencers had misjudged the Dalai Lama based on a 5-second edited video.
He stated that the Chinese Communist Party had circulated the video as part of their propaganda to defame the Dalai Lama over the past six decades. The protesters were disappointed that the media in India and around the world had maliciously covered the edited video.
In Leh, Ladakh, a peaceful march was organized on April 15 by the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) and Ladakh Gumpa Association (LGA) along with the Tibetan community to show their support for the spiritual leader Dalai Lama. The protesters claimed that a doctored video of the Dalai Lama is being used as part of a conspiracy to defame him. They condemned the alleged conspiracy and expressed their solidarity with the spiritual leader. The protesters also urged the Dalai Lama to continue spreading his message of peace, love and compassion.
In Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, members of the Monpa tribe organised a peaceful march to show their support for the Dalai Lama. They held banners and marched behind a decorated vehicle carrying a portrait of the Dalai Lama. The rally was attended by over a thousand people, including monks and local residents, and was held alongside a march against China's efforts to rename certain locations in the area. The Dalai Lama has issued an apology for the "hurt his words may have caused" and has said that he often teases people in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras.
The recent edited video of the Dalai Lama has brought about a sense of unity and emotional power among Tibetans in exile. Many Tibetans have expressed their support for the spiritual leader and condemned the conspiracy to defame him. Despite the controversy surrounding the video, the Dalai Lama's followers have rallied behind him, blaming the criticism on ignorance about Tibetan customs. This has only strengthened the resolve of Tibetans in their fight for independence and has brought them closer together. In this way, the edited video has become a rallying point for Tibetans in exile, giving them a renewed sense of purpose and determination in their struggle for freedom.
Edited and collated by Team TRC