South Africa in hot seat over Dalai Lama visa

By Crystal van Wyk
Posted on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 15:06

South African authorities are under increasing pressure to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to attend Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th Birthday bash next month.

The former Nobel Laureate has invited an impressive list of international dignitaries and celebrities to his party in Cape Town, including the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The South African government has been under pressure with allegations that it was succumbing to the Chinese government by refusing Dalai Lama an entry visa.

In 2009, South Africa barred the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader from visiting the country to attend a peace conference, for fear of jeopardising ties with China.

South Africa’s department of International Affairs said a visa application for the Dalai Lama was still under consideration and once completed the response will be communicated to him.

The International Affairs deputy director general, Clayson Monyela said “the reason for the delay was an application which was incomplete submitted on the 29th of August.

“Payment was not made and there was no passport accompanying the application as result it was sent back”.

The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre says numerous attempts to get a response from government regarding a visa for the Tibetan spiritual leader had been unsuccessful.

Chairperson of the centre, Dumisa Ntsebeza said he had sent four letters to deputy International Relations minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim.

Ntsebeza said the “uncertainty over the visa is causing deep anxiety to the Archbishop and Dalai Lama.”

The centre said they first tried to apply for a visa in June but was told it was too far ahead of his trip.

Monyela said now all outstanding documentation had been submitted and the application was undergoing the normal visas process.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have lambasted the government for failing to consider the application in time.

They called on the government to show its political strength and maturity by not bowing to pressure from China to deny the Dalai Lama the visa.

The Freedom Front Plus said, the “ANC’s international view on human rights and self-determination is becoming increasingly ambiguous, dishonest and confusing.

“The ANC, for 50 years fought its struggle against apartheid under the banner of human rights.

“They mustered huge international support with it. The price which the ANC is going to pay, should they refuse to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama is huge,” the party said.

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