Dalai Lama to meet sex abuse victims in The Netherlands

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama attends a press meeting in Malmo, Sweden. (Reuters pic)

THE HAGUE: The Dalai Lama will Friday meet a dozen victims of alleged sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers in what is believed to be the first such gathering with Tibet’s spiritual leader.

The victims launched a petition Monday asking to meet the Dalai Lama who is on a European tour, to share their experiences.

The meeting will be in The Netherlands where the Dalai Lama is to give two days of lectures in the southwestern port city of Rotterdam.

“We found refuge in Buddhism with an open mind and heart, until we were raped in its name,” the victims said in their petition, which has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.

The Dalai Lama’s office responded by saying he will talk to the victims during a “short audience” on Friday afternoon.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama was saddened to learn of the sexual abuse suffered by students of Buddhist teachers,” an official in his office wrote.

The Dalai Lama “has consistently denounced such irresponsible and unethical behaviour,” Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa said, adding “such misbehaviour was intolerable and must stop.”

However, if these warnings were ineffective, the Dalai Lama made it clear that “students would have no other recourse than to publicise such disgraceful conduct, criticising perpetrators by name.”

Victims will also have a chance to hand the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate written testimonies and is expected to discuss some thoughts on how to deal with the issue.

Starting Friday, the 83-year-old Dalai Lama will be in the Netherlands for four days, before heading to Germany.

Churches around the world have been rocked in recent years by sex abuse scandals, most notably the Roman Catholic Church where Pope Francis is battling to make amends to victims who feel they have been badly let down by the authorities.