The 14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan people.
In the past, Dalai Lamas have also served as the political leaders of Tibet. The current Dalai Lama was exiled from Tibet in 1959 after a failed Tibetan uprising against the Chinese occupation. He led the Tibetan government-in-exile for many years but has since passed his political authority to democratic institutions.
In occupied Tibet, any sign of loyalty to the Dalai Lama can be met with arrests, lengthy sentences, torture, violent crackdowns and 're-education' programmes. Despite more than 50 years of China's oppressive occupation, Tibetans remain fiercely loyal to their spiritual leader.
How you can take action
China may wish to undermine the Dalai Lama, but Tibetans continue to push back. Free Tibet’s ‘Beyond Belief’ campaign supports their struggle against China’s relentless interference in their religious affairs.
Read more about the campaign, and sign the petition which calls on political and religious leaders to tell China that they will never recognise any Dalai Lama it appoints.
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Dalai Lama news
Much of the global support for Tibet is thanks to the Dalai Lama’s popularity. Despite being in his 80's, he still has a very busy schedule, giving teachings in India and touring the world to give talks. China's denigration of the Dalai Lama, their prohibitions on following his teachings and their refusal to allow him to enter Tibet is a common cause of protest in Tibet.