Around 1,000-1,500 Tibetans gathered in front of the France Television office in Paris on Saturday to show their support for the Dalai Lama after a viral video of the spiritual leader sparked controversy online.
Tenzin Gyatso, an exiled Tibetan leader, is shown kissing a child on the lips and then forcing him to “suck my tongue” during a ceremony in India.
The office of the Dalai Lama later released a statement noting that the leader regretted the incident and “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,” read the statement.
Local Tibetans who participated in the Paris rally held up posters of the Dalai Lama and shouted shouts in his favor. The participants accused television networks and social media platforms of slandering the leader by reading the film incorrectly.
Several Tibetan community groups in France, including Students for a Free Tibet, Ustang Association of France, Dhomay Association of France, Dokham Chushi Gangdrung, Tibet Youth Congress, and Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist Associations, among others, coordinated the demonstration.
According to the Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist Associations, China circulated the film to damage the Dalai Lama’s reputation.
The Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association, which also held its own march in India, alleged that the film was a plot to smear the image of the Dalai Lama.