By Magnus Fiskesjö
On April 8, 2023, a new global smear campaign against the Dalai Lama was unleashed on social media.
This, in itself, wasn’t news. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he was forced to flee his homeland, occupied by Mao’s China. He remains deeply loved in Tibet, but the Chinese regime has made it a criminal offense even to have a photo of him. And ever since 1959, Chinese officials have been vilifying him in every medium possible.
But while this latest round is almost certainly also disinformation “Made in China,” it represents a new approach: Attempting to paint the Dalai Lama as a pedophile. The trick succeeded beyond belief, with millions of people in the United States, Europe, and beyond – due to prior prejudice coupled with the self-righteous tendency to jump to conclusions, combined with widespread ignorance about Tibet.
As the Tibetan exile activist Lhadon Tethong pointed out in a recent public conversation, the goal was very likely also to distract the world from the new dramatic oppression inside Chinese-occupied Tibet.
Read the rest at The Diplomat.
Magnus Fiskesjö is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Cornell University. He has published widely on topics such as ethnic relations, slavery and inequality, as well as heritage and museum issues, mainly in East and Southeast Asia.