State dithers over Dalai Lama visa

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lama tutu sep 9 REUTERS Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The South African government has been “profoundly disrespectful” towards two Nobel Peace Laureates in its slow response to the visa application by the Dalai Lama.

This was the comment issued by the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre and the Office of Tibet in Pretoria in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The organisations said the application process for the Dalai Lama to visit the country as a guest of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu started more than three months ago. Both spiritual leaders are Nobel Peace Laureates.

The Dalai Lama had been invited to attend Tutu’s 80th birthday celebrations, which was set to include a party and an inaugural peace lecture delivered by the Tibetan spiritual leader, in Cape Town next week and has still not heard whether his visa application has been accepted.

Tutu told journalists on Wednesday during interviews in the build-up to his birthday that the way the visa application was being dealt with was reminiscent of the way authorities dealt with applications by black South Africans for travel documents under apartheid.

Nomfundo Walaza, chief executive of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, said the government should have had the courage of its convictions to make a decision on the visa application.

“It would have been much more respectful to have received a negative answer than no answer at all. How can we arrange the visit if we don’t know whether it will be happening? We are an NGO. Who picks up the costs?”

One official in South Africa’s Deputy Ministry of International Relations and Co-operation on Wednesday apologised to the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre for its “tardy” response, the statement said.

Department spokesman Clayson Monyela was recently quoted in the media saying the Dalai Lama’s visa application had been incomplete and was only received in full last week.

Sonam Tenzing of the Office of Tibet in Pretoria dismissed the claim that the Dalai Lama had not fulfilled the technical requirements for the visa application until September 20 as “absurd”.

“The first time our representatives visited the South African High Commission with all relevant documentation they were advised to come back a few weeks later so that the visa would be valid in October.

“When they went back a second time with the documentation they were advised that ‘clearance’ had to be sought from Pretoria. The documentation was accepted on their third visit to the High Commission, following an attempt to apply through the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa.”

Tenzing said that the department had all of the documentation required to make their decision on the visa, and received the physical passport for stamping on September 20 when the Dalai Lama returned from a visit to South America.

“This is a process that His Holiness’s representatives have dealt with many times in the past,” Tenzing said.

The statement detailed each visit between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the High Commission in New Delhi, which official had been addressed and what the outcome had been.

Representatives first visited the South African High Commission in New Delhi on June 29 with a view to securing travel documentation.

Parallel to the technical visa application process in New Delhi, the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre conducted a “sustained formal and informal lobbying exercise” with senior representatives of the South African government. The lobbying was intended to facilitate the visa without the process erupting into a public controversy, the statement said.

The Peace Centre is hosting the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture in Cape Town scheduled to be delivered by the Dalai Lama on Saturday, October 8, the day after Tutu’s birthday.

A number of concerned citizens announced on Wednesday they would be protesting the “stalling and possible denial” of the visa application by protesting outside Parliament on Monday between 6pm and 8pm. - Cape Times

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David C, wrote

IOL Comments
09:45am on 30 September 2011
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Nigerian drug lords, West African gangsters and European arms dealers with dollar-signs in their eyes and wallets bulging with bribes are all welcome. Visas aplenty. Welcome, a few million illegal entrants from our neighborhood disaster zone in Zimbabwe, all without visas. But allow one humble monk with an empty purse and love and forgiveness for his persecutors into our country? The whole world lauds Mandela and deservedly so. He spent 27 years in jail for resisting a brutal regime. But remember there are countless monks in prison in Tibet, some for over 30 years, and Chinese prison hospitality includes cattle-prods and inverted suspension and more horrors. Six thousand temples were destroyed in Tibet. More than a million monks have died. When money usurps morals it's time to take stock. When human rights abuses are brushed under the diplomatic and trade carpets, its time to be embarrased and ashamed about the actions of those who (mis)represent us. Desmond Tutu's outspoken disappointment with the way our Rainbow Nation is degrading is one of the few sources we have for political national pride today. His invitation to the Dalai Lama, too. Soften up, Minister for Chinese Kow-Tow-ing. Let him in for a few days. He won't steal anything, well, maybe just a little bit of your heart.

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The Archer, wrote

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09:10am on 30 September 2011
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If only the late, great Robert Kirby were still around he'd have a field day satirising this current incompetent government by likening it to the Nats of yore whom he so despised (read his Songs of the Cockroach). The hypocrisy of this government, which fetes dictators and tyrants, sticks in one's gizzard. The Department of International Relations with its anti-Semitic statements; its dilatory tactics with the Dalai Lama (to appease its Chinese puppeteers); its fumbling about-turn on Libya; its indefensible support for Sudan's Bashir at the UN; its fawning over Burmese generals; its appeasement of Robert Mugabe; its (her ladyship's) arrogance over a handbag; and so on - is a deep embarrassment to SA. What utter humiliation this wayward department repeatedly brings upon the country!

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Ringmaster, wrote

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08:00am on 30 September 2011
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This country's a circus, and the clowns are in charge.

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Tonto, wrote

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05:59am on 30 September 2011
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The archbishop should not complain as he played a pivotal role in the ascendancy to power of the ANC.

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Sbu, wrote

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09:08pm on 29 September 2011
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South Africa and China are huge business partners so as the Canada and the US. China has human rights abuses and known of using child labor.In SA and in Africa in general the chineese business corporate is booming but then the chineese will get to understand South African labor laws..you just can't come to SA thinking that you will have an easy go on cheap labour..it will never happen in SA. Yes SA should grant Dalai Lama a visa to visit SA and make it clear to the chineese that it has nothing to do with supporting chineese enemies but doing the right thing in terms of supporting human rights practices as the world is heading towards the 21st century.

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the snag, wrote

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09:03pm on 29 September 2011
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Is it not that clear for Archbishop Tutu and the Foundation, the kind of element they are dealing with whenever they insist in a visa for the Dalai Lama?......Have they not realised that the Chinese Master has spoken and declared the Dalai Lama a political leper, and the lackay governments now sold to them must obey????

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tsering topgyal, wrote

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06:09pm on 29 September 2011
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The present South African government with its treatment towards HH Dalai Lama has made friends with countries like China and others that do not respect human rights. Its disgraceful that the South African government will allow another country to dictate its foreign policy.

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