State mum on Dalai Lama visa

2011-09-27 07:32

Numerous attempts to get a response from government regarding a visa for Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been unsuccessful, the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre said yesterday.

Chairperson of the peace centre Dumisa Ntsebeza said he had sent four letters to deputy international relations minister Ebrahim Ebrahim.

“The only response to the letters received to date have been acknowledgements of receipt,” Ntsebeza said in a statement.

In his first letter sent to Ebrahim, Ntsebeza wrote that after formally attempting to lodge the Dalai Lama’s visa application at home affairs in Cape Town, Tutu’s office was told that the Dalai Lama had not applied for the visa in New Delhi.

“So the Dalai Lama’s representatives returned to the SA High Commission for the third time to submit the paperwork. This time, the paperwork was accepted,” Ntsebeza wrote in the letter.

“It has reached the point that uncertainty over the visa is not only causing deep anxiety to the Archbishop and Dalai Lama, but is materially jeopardising the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust’s ability to organise the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture.”

Tutu has invited the Dalai Lama, who was refused entry into the country two years ago, to his 80th birthday celebrations in Cape Town on October 7.

Tutu warned that the government would “shoot itself in the foot” by again refusing his fellow Nobel Peace laureate entry into South Africa.

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, a key trade partner.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising in 1959. He accepts Chinese rule, but Beijing accuses him of being a separatist and opposes his regular meetings with foreign leaders.

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