SA’s handling of Dalai Lama a disgrace

2011-10-10 15:20

Government’s abortion of the Dalai Lama visit is a national disgrace.

It points to an erosion of values that must underscore the sustainability of a nation. It undermines the pillar of our Constitution, the protection of human rights.

It flies against the ANC’s own values as set out in the freedom charter – to recognise the fundamental rights and dignity of all humans.

Its handling of the Dalai Lama visa application says that government elites’ human rights and those of their cohorts are better than the human rights of the masses of the Tibetan peasants oppressed by the Chinese junta.

There was clear vacillation in “refusing” the visa as government incompetently tossed the application from one official to the other.

Is this informed by a desire to please our new colonial master, China, to demonstrate that the “colony” is toeing the line.

Is it to show that our R39?billion in exports to and R43?billion in imports from China are more important than human rights?

That we are, as a nation, party to the repression of the Tibetan masses by our treatment of their leader?

We are ready and willing to sacrifice human rights on the altar of narrow financial expediency.

We are fighting for scraps. Like all other African nations that are being converted by China’s foreign direct investment and foreign policy, we are driven by pure domestic interests.

From transportation and mining extraction infrastructure to being a conveyor belt of natural resources to China and cheap products from China – all of this is exterminating the local economy.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, after his rightful expression of disgust at the ill-treatment of the Tibetan leader by our government, is told to calm down and work with the ANC when he tells Zuma that he does not represent him in his handling of the matter.

He is told to “stop praying for the demise of the ANC government”.

This insult is aimed at an icon of our revolution, a man who has sacrificed his life?– 80 years – for the liberation of the masses of our people.

He is lambasted for talking truth to unprincipled power.

It seems that anyone correctly advising government is an enemy seeking its demise.

It does not matter if the advice is from ANC members themselves, its alliance partner Cosatu, civil society organisations or icons like Bishop Tutu and the late Kader Asmal.

Responding to Jay Naidoo’s question at the recent business briefing in Sandton on why the visa was not granted, the president, on national television, responded that he was not an immigration official and the question was therefore unfair to him. In other words, it must be asked of an unknown government official, whom government refused to identify.

This incoherence and resultant embarrassment to our nation is reflected with increasing alarm in the implementation of our African foreign policy as seen not only from our unstable Libya and Botswana policy but also our approach to the Syrian question in the UN Security Council and indeed our position on the human rights of the Tibetans.

» Kholong is an advocate, a policy and risk analyst, and a businessman. He writes in his personal capacity

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