Statement on HHDL Video – Students for a Free Tibet
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Statement on HHDL Video

April 13, 2023

This past week has been deeply painful for everyone at SFT and for Tibetans around the world. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is a symbol of hope for Tibetans in exile and inside of Tibet, and to see His Holiness’s name attached to the most vile accusations imaginable is excruciatingly difficult. 

SFT unequivocally stands for the protection of children, and all people, from all forms of abuse, and the interaction between His Holiness and a child at a public audience in February 2023 was not that.

Some people are confused and others upset after viewing the clipped video that was first circulated by what appears to be Chinese government-backed sources well over a month after the event took place. Recognizing that his genuine attempt to show affection has been perceived as inappropriate, His Holiness apologized and expressed his regret.

The complete video, including interviews with the child and his mother, who was on stage throughout the interaction, provides essential context to this situation that has been dramatically sensationalized. Both the mother and child express their happiness at meeting His Holiness and say it was a “blessing” and “a really great experience.” This footage has been available publicly since February. The family itself is reported to have sent a letter to the Dalai Lama apologizing for the uproar and expressing their continued, unwavering faith in him.

To the Tibetan people, His Holiness is a revered political and spiritual leader who has led with extraordinary compassion and vision through the traumatic experience of China’s invasion and occupation of their country, as well as a life as political exiles. To see his lifetime of selfless advocacy for world peace and universal kindness attacked over a seconds-long clip is profoundly disturbing and upsetting.

All of us at SFT stand in solidarity with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the Tibetan people who have endured unyielding aggression from the Chinese government for decades. We are steadfast in our conviction that the truth will prevail.