Dalai Lama cancels highly charged South Africa trip for Tutu birthday

October 4, 2011

(Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at a conference in Sao Paulo September 17, 2011/Nacho Doce)

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, canceled a trip to South Africa planned for this week that had put Pretoria in a bind between its biggest trading partner China and one of its modern heroes, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu. The Dalai Lama’s office said on Tuesday he cancelled the trip for him to attend Archbishop Tutu’s 80th birthday celebration this week because South Africa — which has had his application paperwork for weeks — had not issued him a visa on time.

South Africa had come under pressure from China not to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate Beijing sees as a dangerous separatist.

“We are, therefore, now convinced that for whatever reason or reasons, the South African government finds it inconvenient to issue a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” his office said in a statement.

The Dalai Lama, once embraced as a beacon of peace in South Africa when apartheid ended, has become a diplomatic headache for the country as its economic fortunes are increasingly linked to China, which had pushed Pretoria to reject a previous visa application. “South Africa has not said ‘no’,” said foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela, “The man has decided to cancel the trip.”

Read the full story by Jon Herskovitz here.


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Blame it on the government, blame it on the president, or blame it on the new colonialists — it doesn’t really matter, as this debacle is bigger than the ANC, Zuma and China. It’s a karmic trist between feuding brothers that goes back to the 13thC: www.knotofstone.com/2011/09/dalai-lama-n ew-visa-and-past-lives/

Posted by NicolasVergunst | Report as abusive

As a South African, I speak on behalf of many of us who are appalled at the SA government’s pathetic bending to ‘diplomatic’ pressure, coupled with internal wrangling and inefficiency leading to this non-action (not issuing the Dalai Lama a visa). This from a country that struggled against all apparent odds to obtain freedom, equality and human rights for all (even if not yet fully realized for all), is falling into the trap of going against its own convictions to please ‘a new economic master’ which has an appalling human rights record – and not least against Nepal, the home of the Dalai Lama. This was a prime opportunity to say to China, “We will do business with you but don’t think that you rule us! You need us as much as we need you.” But what have they done? Tacitly strengthened the Chinese government’s hand.

I know nothing of karmic trists, but I do know of the inefficiency, incompetency and corruption going on in SA government and public departments, and we are all sick of it. Many of us, with Bishop Tutu, pray for a day when SA will finally learn to bow to conscience and not the guy with the money. But that day, I fear, is far away.

Posted by Fair4all | Report as abusive