Sam Brownback and Ngodup Tsering, Former US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom; Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington DC
Newsweek, 14 July 2021
In His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s last meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong in 1955, Mao drew close to him and said, “Religion is poison.”
“At this,” recounts His Holiness in his autobiography, Freedom in Exile, “I felt a violent burning sensation all over my face and I was suddenly very afraid. ‘So,’ I thought, ‘you are the destroyer of the Dharma after all.'”
Mao’s convictions indeed led to devastating consequences for Tibet as a Buddhist nation—including the destruction of more than 6,000 Tibetan monasteries, the disrobing and killing of thousands of monks and nuns. Estimates put the number of Tibetans tortured, starved, and executed at anywhere from 400,000 to 1.2 million. The International Commission of Jurists officially recognized these atrocities as genocide in 1961.
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