CAPE TOWN, South Africa: The President of Central Tibetan Administration Dr Lobsang Sangay addressed students and faculty of the University of Stellenbosch’s Law Department yesterday.
Despite verbal and written protests by the Chinese embassy in South Africa to cancel the event, the Department went ahead with the event. Faculty members and number of interested students attended the address, which lasted about 30 minutes.
In his address, President Dr Sangay spoke about His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people’s reverence and admiration for Nelson Mandela and the values that South Africa as a country represents to the world.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people have always expressed appreciation for Nelson Mandela for the non violent revolution that he led in South Africa,” Dr Sangay told the students and faculty.
“Nelson Mandela’s book ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ shaped my thinking and my political ideology. My growing up years was heavily influenced by Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom and this sowed the seeds for the quest for freedom for my homeland Tibet. I have had the honor of meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu and I feel close to the values for freedom, justice, democracy and non-violence that South Africa continue to fight for,” he added.
“Tibetans have and will always admire the South African spirit and we are convinced that if South Africa can do it, then Tibetans can do it too,” he exclaimed.
Appealing for South Africa’s support for the Tibetan cause, Dr Sangay noted that the success of any freedom struggle is dependent on the support of the international community.
“During my university days two and half decades ago in Delhi, I marched along with millions of people across the world, to call for an end to apartheid and for South Africa’s freedom,” Dr Sangay recalled.
Dr Sangay expressed confidence that South Africa will continue to support the Tibetan people and the Tibetan movement.
Speaking about the issue of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s South Africa visa delays, Dr Sangay said: “The denial of visa for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, not just once but three times, showed how the values cherished by South Africa is diminishing.”
“For His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it is not much of a loss because it is simply a case of not going to one more country. But for South Africa, it was a compromise of the values of freedom, non violence and justice that you fought for, that you went to prison for,” Dr Sangay pointed out.
“South Africa’s moral authority became questionable and therefore with the unfortunate episode, South Africa lost more than just His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said.
Dr Sangay also explained in detail the grim situation prevailing in Tibet under the Chinese communist rule and how according to Freedom House’s annual report Tibet is ranked as the second least free country in the world after Syria.
Urging the students and faculty to look at Tibet as a moral lesson, he said: “Let’s not repeat the mistake again. Tibet provides a chance for South Africa to prove its moral and legitimate authority” and lauded the Law Department of the University for upholding the values of freedom and democracy that is rightfully enshrined in the constitution of South Africa.”