Dalai Lama accused of failing to act after being alerted
The controversy involving a viral video of the Dalai Lama asking a young boy to “suck my tongue” has been compounded by new allegations, with a 42-year-old man coming forward to accuse the Tibetan spiritual leader of having failed to act on his reports of sexual and physical abuse at a Buddhist temple in the Algarve.
The alleged abuse occurred at the Humkara Dzong temple in Loulé, part of the Ogyen Kunzang Chöling (OKC) community in Algarve, which Ricardo Mendes has described as “an invisible prison” where “nobody left out of fear” and where they “knew nothing of the outside world.”
In recent interviews with SIC and Expresso, Ricardo Mendes stated that he and three women met in 2018 with the Dalai Lama in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to denounce several instances of abuse suffered at Buddhist retreats around the world.
During that meeting, the Dalai Lama admitted that he was aware of the abuse since the 1990s and even encouraged other victims to come forward.
However, despite assurances from the Dalai Lama that he had “received the ammunition to act,” Mendes says “nothing was done” to address the complaints.
The accusations were initially revealed on the Facebook page of the OKC Info Association, which Mendes has led since 2015.
According to Mendes, the person in charge of the abuse in the Algarve was Robert Spatz, a Buddhist ‘guru’ who formerly headed the Ogyen Kunzang Chöling (OKC) community in Algarve.
The case dates back to 1993, when over 20 children were transferred from another temple in the French Alps to the temple in the Algarve, where the children were taken away from their parents.
“Robert Spatz is the one who influenced the parents, imposed all these things, and managed to convince them that separating the children from the parents was a good idea,” said Mendes.
Boys were normally subjected to physical abuse, he added, while girls aged between nine and 12 were the targets of alleged sexual abuse.
“Certain tantric practices of Tibetan Buddhism were used justify and manipulate young children or teenagers to accept the abuse, and we had to accept it. We had spent our whole lives thinking that Robert Spatz was almost our father,” he said.
Spatz has since been convicted by Belgian courts on charges of sexual abuse, kidnapping minors, and money laundering, receiving a five-year suspended sentence.
More than twenty men and women came forward to report the cases, some of which have already prescribed. Ten of these victims were Portuguese, reports SIC.
Mendes himself claims to have been one of Spatz’s victims, saying that he still remembers the “torture” he experienced, such as getting hit with a stick for falling asleep in the temple or for answering back to an educator.
SIC contacted the Portuguese Buddhist Union (UBP), which said it was not aware of any physical or sexual abuse in the Portuguese Buddhist community. Regarding the OKC organization, it was excluded from the UBP in 2015.