The office of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama sought to clarify remarks that suggested the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US was justified, a report said on Wednesday.
Asked about bin Laden’s death at an event on Tuesday in Los Angeles, where the Buddhist leader was at the start of a trip to five US states, he said the al-Qaeda chief might have deserved compassion and even forgiveness.
However, cited by the Los Angeles Times, the Dalai Lama said: “Forgiveness doesn’t mean forget what happened. If something is serious and it is necessary to take countermeasures, you have to take countermeasures.”
He did not broach the bin Laden question during two further events on Wednesday, but a summary of his comments posted on his Web site, sought to clarify his remarks.
“The first question was on His Holiness’ emphasis on compassion as a basis of ethics. It asked whether in some situations ensuring justice is more important than being compassionate to the perpetrator of a crime,” it said.
“It referred to the news of the death of Osama bin Laden and the celebrations of it by some, and asked where compassion fits in with this and ethics.
In response the Dalai Lama “emphasized the need to find a distinction between the action and the actor. He said in the case of bin Laden, his action was of course destructive and the Sept. 11 events killed thousands of people.”
“So his action must be brought to justice ... But with the actor we must have compassion and a sense of concern ... His Holiness said therefore the countermeasure, no matter what form it takes, has to be compassionate action,” the summary said.
The 75-year-old monk is on his first trip to the US since announcing his decision in March to resign from politics. The Nobel laureate, who will retain the Tibetan spiritual leader, has stressed he is still “fully committed” to the struggle against Chinese rule in Tibet.