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South Africa: Protests over Dalai Lama’s SA visa woes

Posted on Monday, 3 October 2011 09:57

Several rights groups, led by the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, were on Monday planning a night vigil in Cape Town in support of the Dalai Lama, amid growing fears that the South African government may again deny the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa.

The “Let him in Now! No pass laws for the Dalai Lama” campaign will be held outside Parliament.

According to organisers of the campaign, which includes several civil society organisations like the South African Peace Alliance and SA Friends of Tibet, called on “everyone in the country and internationally to show their displeasure through non violent peaceful protest and action in the country and at South African embassies abroad”.??

In 2009, South Africa denied the Dalai Lama a visa when he wanted to attend a local peace conference and the move sparked a huge international outcry.??

The Dalai Lama has been invited to attend the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday celebrations, to be held this weekend.

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

The Tibetan spiritual leader is set to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural Desmond Tutu Lecture.

The Dalai Lama is also scheduled to deliver a lecture at Wits? University titled “Non-Violence in the New Century: The Way Forward” on October 14.??

The International Relations Department said a decision on the Dalai Lama’s visa application would not be made public.

The department’s spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the application was, going through normal processes and the outcome will be communicated to the applicant.??

Pretoria’s reluctance to immediately grant the visa stems from fears that it will strain relations with China.

China is South Africa’s largest trading partner.

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

Meanwhile, South Africa’s main opposition, the Democratic Alliance said it would be a huge embarrassment for the country to refuse the Tibetan spiritual leader entry into South Africa.

Masizole Mnqasela the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Home Affairs said he had written to the Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urging her to make a favourable decision.

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