DHARAMSHALA: The Mayor of Cape Town has expressed her dismay at the South African government’s position on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visa.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town in October. “We have informally received contact that His Holiness won’t get his visa,” Nangsa Chodon, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s representative in South Africa, told Reuters.
“Based on further discussions with the Dalai Lama’s representatives both in South Africa and Dharamsala, it has now become clear that the officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) contacted the Dalai Lama’s office to inform them that the South Africa government would not grant him a visa to attend the summit, due to sensitivities related to the Chinese government,” Patricia de Lille, the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, said in a statement on 5 September.
“The actions of DIRCO are absolutely appalling, and an affront to a key theme of the summit: celebrating 20 years of South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela.
“It is indeed a dark day for South Africa when the ideals for which Nelson Mandela and so many others fought are sold to the highest bidder.
“The Mandela, Luthuli, De Klerk, and Tutu Foundations will be writing to President Zuma appealing to him to intervene and ensure that a visa is granted to the Dalai Lama so that he can attend the summit.
“Past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize (including former heads of State) will also write a petition to President Zuma. The Nobel Peace Laureates who have already signed the letter of appeal to President Zuma include President Lech Walesa, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Muhammad Yunus, Jody Williams, Betty Williams, Tawakkul Karman, Leimah Gbowee, and Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo.
“If this last attempt at securing a visa is unsuccessful, the programme of the summit will be adapted to ensure that the Nobel Peace Laureates can make a powerful symbolic protest of the Dalai Lama’s treatment,” the Mayor said.
Earlier in 2009 and 2011, His Holiness the Dalai Lama called off his visits to South Africa after the South African government seemed to find it inconvenient to issue a visa to him. In 2011, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was invited by a number of universities and organizations including Stellenbosch University, the Tutu Centre and the Mahatma Gandhi Trust to give public talks, deliver Bishop Tutu’s 80th Birth Anniversary Inaugural. A South African court ruled that officials had “unreasonably delayed” a decision on granting a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama that year.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited South Africa in 1996, 1999 and 2004.