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The Dalai Lama and the case of the poison hair

The Dalai Lama made a pretty startling claim in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph yesterday: "We received some sort of information from Tibet," he said. "Some Chinese agents training some Tibetans, especially women, you see, using poison – the hair poisoned, and the scarf poisoned – they were supposed to seek blessing from me, ...

Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Dalai Lama made a pretty startling claim in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph yesterday:

"We received some sort of information from Tibet," he said. "Some Chinese agents training some Tibetans, especially women, you see, using poison – the hair poisoned, and the scarf poisoned – they were supposed to seek blessing from me, and my hand touch."

He said the reports were unconfirmed and he couldn’t say whether they were "100 percent correct" but it was still enough to set off the Beijing rapid-response machine: 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Dalai Lama was spreading rumours to attract public attention.

"His sensational allegations are not even worth refuting," he said, before calling them groundless. The spokesman added: "Wearing a religious cloak, the Dalai Lama has been engaged in international anti-China separatist activities."

The Chinese newspaper the Global Times went further, calling the allegations mind-boggling.

"The assassination plot told by the Dalai is more like something you would find in a martial arts novel. Revealing such unreliable information, the Dalai appears to have become mixed up in his old age," it wrote.

One would like to give the Dalai Lama the benefit of the doubt, and there have certainly been some strange but true assassination plots over the years, but this one seems a little dubious. For one thing, if the poison were strong enough to kill him from just touching it, wouldn’t it kill the woman wearing it on her head first?

The Dalai Lama is currently in Britain to receive the Templeton Prize, a £1.1 million annual award for exceptional work in "affirming life’s spiritual dimension".

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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