Conflict & Justice

Dalai Lama danger? Send in the flying monks


His Holiness the Dalai Lama answers questions during a press conference following his participation in a panel discussion at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall on April 25, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.


Scott Olson

How credible is the information about a plot to assassinate the Dalai Lama, allegedly hatched in Beijing, asks the Wall Street Journal's Tom Wright?

As Wright puts it, "...the Tibetan government-in-exile doesn’t have any way of knowing whether the threat is real or not," and "We’ll have to wait for China’s Foreign Ministry briefing later this afternoon in Beijing to hear what they have to say about the accusation of a death plot."

But it doesn't sound very likely (even if the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency did once hatch a plan to make Fidel Castro's beard fall out).

For reasons that aren't clear, the Dalai Lama told Britain's Telegraph newspaper that he'd been warned of a plot to kill him using Tibetan women posing as devotees, who would use poisoned scarves or poisoned hair to assassinate the religious leader.

What next? Send in the flying monks?

Tibet's spiritual leader has earned universal respect for his measured and savvy responses to China throughout his long exile. But surely this was a "plot" that did not merit mentioning -- worse, even, than the dubious accusations that the Karmapa Lama is a Chinese agent that floated around Indian news bureaus last year.

Most likely, by granting the supposed scheme this undue publicity the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism has played into the hands of those who seek to discredit him, for these outrageous claims may (at least for some overly credulous Chinese) call into question some of the other, well documented crimes committed by Chinese security personnel.

Does this show that the continued self-immolations in Tibet -- and the perception that "China is winning" the struggle for the Buddhist homeland -- is shaking the Dalai Lama from his long-held stance of dogged realism in the face of Chinese propaganda?

If so, he needs a new spin doctor.