The EFF has called on the Indian authorities to arrest and prosecute the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, on allegations of child sexual abuse.
This comes after the religious leader asked a young boy to suck his tongue in a video that has since gone viral across the globe.
It is reported that the incident happened in India in February where the Tibetan spiritual leader, 87, who lives in India in permanent exile, asked the young boy to kiss him. He had initially asked the spiritual leader for a hug.
In the video, the boy approached the Nobel Peace Prize winner and asked him: “Can I hug you?”
The elderly Tibetan then replied, “first here”, prompting the boy to give him a hug and a kiss. Pointing to his lips, he said “then I think finally here also”.
He then pulled the boy’s chin and kissed him on the mouth. “And suck my tongue,” he said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the EFF called for the Indian authorities to act swiftly in arresting the Dalai Lama in spite of an apology issued by the leader.
“The lame apology issued today (Tuesday) from the Dalai Lama’s office must be rejected with condemnation. Child abuse cannot be apologised away. It is also telling that the apology was issued almost a month after the deplorable incident and only after mounting pressure from activists against child abuse. The supposed apology failed to state that his acts were grossly abusive,” the party said.
The apology issued by the Dalai Lama’s office did not accept responsibility, but only said that the boy, who was not identified for fear of victimisation, had asked the spiritual leader if he could give him a hug. The apology did not make any reference to the kiss or the extended tongue, adding that the Dalai Lama’s actions had been light-hearted.
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident,” his office said, adding that the Dalai Lama wished to apologise “for the hurt his words may have caused,” reads the apology in part.
EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said religious leaders were expected to protect and not abuse those they claim to serve. Thambo added that the Dalai Lama should not be shielded from the laws of India, but should face the full might of the law.
“Religious leaders are expected to be protectors, not abusers of the most vulnerable in society. Children are not safe in their homes, schools, public spaces and with religious leaders … the law must not be spared on any religious leader who indulges in abusive acts. The Indian authorities must send a stern warning to those who dare to harm children that they will be prosecuted harshly regardless of their status,” he said.