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from Africa News blog:

Was South Africa right to deny Dalai Lama a visa?

By Isaac Esipisu

Given that China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and given the close relationship between Beijing and the ruling African National Congress, it didn’t come as a huge surprise that South Africa was in no hurry to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama.

Tibet’s spiritual leader will end up missing the 80th birthday party of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fellow Nobel peace prize winner. He said his application for a visa had not come through on time despite having been made to Pretoria several weeks earlier. (Although South Africa’s government said a visa hadn’t actually been denied, the Dalai Lama’s office said it appeared to find the prospect inconvenient).
Desmond Tutu said the government’s action was a national disgrace and warned the President and ruling party that one day he will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government.

It’s the second time the Dalai Lama has been unable to honour an invitation to South Africa by Tutu after failing to make it to a meeting in 2010.

South Africa will certainly win more plaudits in Beijing, which last week agreed to $2.5 billion in investment projects with during a visit by South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Dalai Lama in NY urges Americans to visit Tibet

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Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday urged Americans to visit his homeland to disprove China’s assertion that people are happy there.
 
Speaking in Manhattan, the Tibetan Buddhist, who fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, said Beijing insists, “Tibetans are very happy.” 
 
“The Chinese government never admit, never acknowledged there is a problem,” he said. “So now I think the world community has a responsibility to show the world there is a problem.
 
“If the majority of Tibetan people are happy, then our information becomes wrong, then … we must apologize to the Chinese government,” the Dalai Lama said to laughs from the audience of 1,500 people.
 
Noting China cast itself as a liberator of Tibet rather than as a colonialist, he said, “A liberator should not bring more misery.
 
“So please, you, non-Tibetans, go there … and then you must show it to the world,” he said, “I urge you, please go there.”
 
On April 23, China urged the United States not to let the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a separatist, visit the country. “We oppose the Dalai Lama going to any country to engage in splittist activities under any pretext,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.
 
The Dalai Lama’s Sunday event was a conversation with former Irish President Mary Robinson.
 
Robinson, also a former United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, called the lack of progress on human rights in Tibet, “heartbreaking from a human rights point of view.”
 
The Dalai Lama replied, “I am happy, I hear also one splittist.”
 
Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a reactionary who seeks to split off nearly a quarter of the land mass of the People’s Republic of China. It has been using its diplomatic clout to try to block the pro-Tibetan message.
 
The 1989 Nobel Peace laureate denies the charge, saying he seeks greater rights, including religious freedom, and autonomy for Tibetans.
 
His week-long trip to the United States included a variety of events in California, Boston and New York but does not include a meeting with President Barack Obama.
 
The Dalai Lama, together with tens of thousands of exiled Tibetans, has lived in India since he fled Lhasa.

Photo credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer. The Dalai Lama listens at the “Wisdom and Compassion for Challenging Times” event in New York May 3, 2009.

from Africa News blog:

Did Dalai Lama ban make sense?

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Organisers have postponed a conference of Nobel peace laureates in South Africa after the government denied a visa to Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989 - five years after South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu won his and four years before Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk won theirs for their roles in ending the racist apartheid regime.

Although local media said the visa ban followed pressure from China, an increasingly important investor and trade partner, the government said it had not been influenced by Beijing and that the Dalai Lama's presence was just not in South Africa's best interest at the moment.

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