Dalai Lama Meets in the Netherlands With Sex Abuse Victims

2018-09-14
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Meeting participants Ricardo Mendes (L) and Ouane Bijlsma (R) show the report detailing abuses that they presented to the Dalai Lama, Sept. 14, 2018.
Meeting participants Ricardo Mendes (L) and Ouane Bijlsma (R) show the report detailing abuses that they presented to the Dalai Lama, Sept. 14, 2018.
AP

UPDATED 5:50 p.m. EST on 09/26/18

The Dalai Lama met on Sept. 14 in Rotterdam in the Netherlands with four Western Buddhists who say their religious teachers subjected them to sexual or psychological abuse, sources said.

The four, representing a group of 12 who had petitioned the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader earlier in the week for the meeting, presented the Dalai Lama with accounts of the abuse members of the group said they had suffered and asked him to take action to address their concerns.

Tibetan lamas named in the complaint presented on Friday included Rigdzin Namkha Rinpoche of the Swiss-based Rigdzin Community.; Tulku Lobsang of the Nangten Menlang Center in Vienna, Austria; Sogyal Rinpoche of the Rigpa organization, an international community with over 100 centers worldwide; and Robert Spatz, a Belgian citizen also called Lama Ogyen Kunzang Dorje, sources told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday.

But when contacted by RFA, Lobsang said he was not aware of any sexual abuse cases against him or his group.

"There is no sexual abuse case against either me or my organization. Therefore, I've nothing further to explain," he said.

A representative for Namkha also rejected the allegations.

"We refute these allegations . . . We have already informed His Holiness of our point of [view] and we wish not to get into further debate on the press about that," Sangye Andres Larrain said.

An independent investigation into the allegations made against Sogyal released its report recently, upholding many of the accusations made against him.

In a Sept. 5, 2018 response, Rigpa said in a statement that it acknowledged the "gravity" of the report, which the organization itself had commissioned the year before to address the growing public scandal, adding, "We feel deeply sorry for the hurt experienced by past and present members of the Rigpa community."

Sogyal has retired as spiritual director of Rigpa, and now has no organizational role in the organization, Richard Grimes, a board member of Rigpa, told RFA.

There was no immediate response from Spatz.

Petitioners who submitted the original request for the meeting included students from Austria, Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The Dalai Lama took no questions from reporters following the 20-minute meeting, but told participants in the meeting that he would raise the issue of abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities when he meets with Tibetan religious leaders in India in November, sources said.

“What we want from him is that he is very clear about the fact that religious leaders in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition are not above the law,” meeting participant Oane Bijlsma said following the meeting, quoted by the Associated Press.

“That even if they claim that their tradition endorses behavior that is supposedly beyond good and evil, it can never be the case."

The meeting with the 83-year Dalai Lama comes as the Roman Catholic Church faces a major crisis of its own in dealing with victims of clergy abuse in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.

Reported and translated by RFA's Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.

UPDATE: Includes responses from lamas named in the petition.

Comments (1)
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Dawa Dhondup

from Swisterland

Who are the sources, are your sources anonymous? I have lots of issues with this reporting such as including the names of Tibetan Lamas without attributing to a clear sources. All other news outlet has only Sogyal Rinpoche and Mipham as the accusers. Besides RFA Tibetan news and English report are inconsistent. In the Tibetan news there are the omission of Lama names, whereas RFA English report appears to know more by naming the lamas but without identify the sources. I think the report is not done well. It is a shabby journalism, and we regular listen call for a high standard of reporting.

Sep 18, 2018 09:58 PM

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