PoliticsNews & AnalysisDalai Lama SA visa fiasco protests continue


Posted on Thursday, 06 October 2011 17:28

Dalai Lama SA visa fiasco protests continue

By Crystal Van Wyk

South African civil society organisations and commentators are continuing to show anger at the furore around the cancellation of Tibetan Spiritual leader's visit to the country.

Dalai Lama/Photo/Reuters

In Johannesburg hundreds of students and lecturers from the University of the Witwatersrand gathered to march in a protest against the Dalai Lama's visa debacle.

They displayed posters that read: "Why deny a man of peace a visa?" and "No pass laws for the Dalai Lama".

The Dalai Lama announced on Tuesday that he had cancelled a planned trip to South Africa to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday celebrations at the weekend.

Three days of celebrations are planned for Tutu, whose birthday is on Friday, 7 October.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was due to deliver the key address at inaugural Desmond Tutu Lecture.

The Dalai Lama was also scheduled to deliver a lecture at Wits University titled "Non-Violence in the New Century: The Way Forward".

He cancelled the trip because the South African government had not granted him a visa.

In 2009, the Dalai Lama was denied permission to attend a peace conference in South Africa, as the authorities claimed the visit would disturb World Cup preparations, sparking a huge international outcry.

In response to the visa drama, an emotional Archbishop Tutu made front-page headlines after responding angrily to the visa debacle and saying that he would pray for the downfall of the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party.

Tutu said even if President Jacob Zuma led the country he did not represent him (Tutu).

The former archbishop also compared the action of the ANC to that of the apartheid ruling party, the National Party. Tutu said he could not believe that this was happening at a time when South Africa was supposed to be free.

Pretoria's reluctance to immediately grant the visa stems from its relations with China. The Asian economic giant is South Africa's largest trading partner.

The Dalai Lama wants an independent Tibet, which China strongly opposes.

The South African department of Foreign Relations indicated that they did not say no to the Dalai Lama, and instead it was the spiritual leader's decision to cancel the scheduled visit.

Meanwhile, several rights organisations, led by the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre indicated that they were planning to investigate the visa fiasco and have urged President Zuma to apologise to the Dalai Lama.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 October 2011 19:04

Subscriptions Digital EditionSubscriptions PrintEdition










Music & Film



Keep up to date with the latest from our network :


Connect with us