By Tenzin Dharpo
The Dalai Lama with the four petitioners who allege that Tibetan Buddhist teachers sexually abused them. Sep. 14, 2018. Photo by Marlies Bosch.
DHARAMSHALA, Sep. 19: Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama who met victims of alleged sexual abuse by Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the Netherlands on Friday reportedly spoke against the perpetrators, in an act of solidarity and condemnation, sources said.
Oane Bijlsma, one of the four who met the Dalai Lama told leading Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar, “He (Dalai Lama) said that no Tibetan teacher is above the law”. She said that she was “happy” that the Tibetan leader heeded their appeals.
“He more or less immediately agreed that putting it on the agenda of the meeting in Dharamsala was a very good plan. He also agreed that making it a spear-point theme during a Mind Life gathering was a very good plan,” Bijlsma said.
At least five Tibetan teachers were said to be named in the petition that includes 12 first-person accounts from survivors of abuse by Buddhist teachers with 1,300 signatures, requesting the Dalai Lama to “reaffirm publicly that Buddhist teachers who commit crimes and misdemeanors, just like any other citizen, are liable to criminal prosecution and civil action”, among other things.
On Saturday, during an appearance on Dutch public television NOS, the Tibetan leader said that he was aware of such incidents as early as 1995 and that such perpetrators "don't care about the Buddha's teaching".
Days ago, his office said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was saddened to learn of the sexual abuse suffered by students of Buddhist teachers and that the Tibetan leader has urged victims in the past to publicly name such teachers. His office also said that the Dalai Lama "has consistently denounced such irresponsible and unethical behaviour," and that "such misbehaviour was intolerable and must stop".
Prominent Buddhist figures in the west, Sogyal Rinpoche of the Rigpa foundation and Sakyong Mipham of Shambhala International are two Tibetan religious figures who have been accused of sexual misconduct by followers publicly.
The Dalai Lama who is currently in Darmstadt, Germany today attended an event organized by Tibet Initiative Deutschland and Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama with Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Lech Walesa and Rebecca Johnson (ICAN) and Vice-President of the German Parliament Claudia Roth.