14 Nobel Laureates urge Zuma to give Dalai Lama visa

2014-09-15 16:39

(File) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Fourteen Nobel Peace Laureates have asked President Jacob Zuma to guarantee the Dalai Lama a visa to South Africa, after the Tibetan spiritual leader was forced to abandon a trip to the country.

The Dalai Lama was to attend a summit of Nobel peace prize winners in Cape Town next month, the first-ever meeting of its kind in Africa.

But, according to an aide, he cancelled after he was denied a visa in a bid to avoid angering China, which regards the Buddhist monk as a campaigner for Tibetan independence.

"We are deeply concerned about the damage that will be done to South Africa's international image by a refusal - or failure - to grant him a visa yet again," the group said in a letter to Zuma.

Signatories include Poland's Lech Walesa, Bangladeshi entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Northern Irish peacemakers David Trimble and John Hume.

The Dalai Lama has applied three times in the last five years to visit South Africa.

Each time the government has dragged its heels until the trip was called off.

Each prior rejection has been met with public outcry by South Africans who see it as a betrayal of the commitment to human rights embraced by their government since the end of apartheid 20 years ago.

Two years ago, a top court found that the government had acted unlawfully by dragging its heels on a visa application by the Tibetan until it was too late.

China - South Africa's biggest single trading partner, with two-way trade worth $21bn in 2012 - regularly uses its economic and political clout to put pressure on governments around the world to limit contact with the Dalai Lama.

"We understand the sensitivities involved - but would like to point out that His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, no longer holds any political office," the signatories said.

Instead, they insisted, he "would participate in the summit solely in his capacity as a globally respected spiritual leader".

The Nobel summit in Cape Town on 13 October - 15 October is backed by foundations representing four South African peace laureates - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Albert Luthuli.

Along with the surviving South Africans - Tutu and de Klerk - the organisers say 13 individuals and eight organisations had confirmed that they would attend the summit, including former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.

Previous summits have been held in cities including Rome, Paris, Chicago and Warsaw.

The Dalai Lama was previously barred from entry to South Africa in 2011, when he was invited to give a lecture as part of celebrations for anti-apartheid activist Tutu's 80th birthday.

At the time, Tutu described the ANC as being "worse than the apartheid government".

The Dalai Lama was also denied a visa in 2009, but had visited three times before that and was personally welcomed by former president Mandela.

Read more on:    desmond tutu  |  dalai lama  |  jacob zuma

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.