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Tibetans Say ‘Last Dalai Lama’ Report Is Misleading

FILE - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama gestures to devotees before he starts teaching on the fifth day of Kalachakra near Leh, India.

Tibetans are disputing a report in a German newspaper in which the Tibetan spiritual leader is quoted as hinting that he may be the last Dalai Lama.

An official at Ganden Phodrang, the official institution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in Dharamsala, India, told VOA Tibetan the quote in Welt am Sonntag is incomplete and only part of a much longer and fuller response to a question about reincarnation.

The paper quoted the Dalai Lama as saying, “We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama."

But the official in Dharamsala says the Tibetan spiritual leader went on to say the ultimate decision on whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or cease to exist will be up to the Tibetan people.

They say that position is not a new one and in fact has been stated many times by the Dalai Lama over several decades.

The Dalai Lama and his predecessors have historically been critical political figures in addition to their position as spiritual leaders. The current Dalai Lama says he has ceased his role as the political leader of the Tibetan people.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Tibetan service.