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Dalai Lama visa saga continues


IOL pic oct4 dalai lama

Reuters

The Dalai Lama.

Cape Town - The government stuck to its refusal to pronounce on the Dalai Lama's visa application on Monday but came under pressure from rights activists and ally Cosatu to allow him into the country.

“Even though China is our biggest trading partner, we should not exchange our morality for dollars or yuan,” the trade union federation's Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich told a candlelight vigil outside Parliament.

“It is completely inappropriate and discriminatory that the Dalai Lama should be denied access. Our democracy is founded on diversity, imperfect as it is.”

Ehrenreich said South Africans wanted to see the rights of the Tibetan spiritual leader respected and warned: “The government must not act against the will of the people because then you are no longer acting on our behalf.”

Opposition leader Helen Zille and academic Mamphele Rampehle accused the government of betraying South Africa's sovereignty and Constitution.

“We cannot be blackmailed into defying our Constitution,” Zille said at the peaceful protest by 200 people, some of them praying.

Earlier on Monday, a representative of the Dalai Lama said requests for information from the South African High Commission in India, where he lives in exile, had proved fruitless.

“We have not been told anything. I spoke to my colleague in New Delhi and they are still waiting. The high commission has closed now for the day,” Sonam Tenzing said.

Tenzing added that high commission staff in New Delhi told his colleagues they were awaiting a decision from Pretoria “because it is a political decision” that must be made by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

The Dalai Lama, 76, applied for a visa in August to allow him to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of his friend and fellow Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Friday.

International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela would not comment on the application, except to say that any eventual decision would be communicated only to the Dalai Lama.

President Jacob Zuma said he had no hand in the decision.

He told a business breakfast in Johannesburg: “I don't know what will be the final thing. I don't think that you can get a definite answer from me.”

The Dalai Lama visited South Africa on three occasions between 1996 and 2004, and met former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

In 2009, he was refused entry by the Zuma administration to attend a conference of Nobel laureates. The government said the visit would detract from preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The decision drew criticism from abroad and at home, with then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan saying it showed the government was “dismissive of human rights”.

She was reprimanded and forced to apologise to her Cabinet colleagues. Tutu termed the decision “disgraceful” and University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) vice-chancellor and principal Loyiso Nongxa said it “ridicules the values enshrined in our Constitution”.

Wits has again invited the Dalai Lama to speak at the university and another outcry is expected if he is again denied entry into South Africa.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

He accepts Chinese rule and stepped down from political life earlier this year, but Beijing accuses him of being a “splittist” and discourages his meetings with foreign government leaders.

In July, China signalled its displeasure after United States President Barack Obama received the Dalai Lama at the White House.

As part of Tutu's birthday celebrations from October 6 to 8, he was expected to deliver a speech titled “Peace and compassion as catalyst for change” to students.

Ramphele said after all Tutu had done for South Africa, “to prevent a lovely party of a set of old men is really not fair”.

“In foreign policy we must display strength, not weakness,” she added. - Sapa


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@Ali,, wrote

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12:26pm on 4 October 2011
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our government could have done a lot of these things you mentioned if they had an education. we are being run by the dumbest Neanderthals ever to run a country

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Ali, wrote

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10:52am on 4 October 2011
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People find it very easy to say ANC this or that...even when its govt that is involved and a certain Ministry is responsible - even president Zuma said that he wont be able to give an answer! It is true this is getting very embarrassing for the country - and the Ministry & its Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is not communicating, just a simple yes or no. Besides one swallow does not make summer, they can allow the visit with conditions, perhaps that he does not make public statements about China or its rulers while in SA! The example of Denmark as @Henrik puts is a fantastic one, SA can tell China how we value our Human Rights record that we are going to allow the Dalai visit as a private person with no state involvement or hosting. SA should not be allowing China to dictate who can be our friends and not. Govt should be able to tell them we deal with you on trade issues and we deal with individuals on a separate platform, this would not jeorpadise anything - the Mnister and her Advisers need to just read signals correctly and act accordinglng - please Minister stop embarrassing us all!

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Realist, wrote

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09:02am on 4 October 2011
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The ANC governement is in full co-operation with Chinese Imperialsts... Botswana should send a youth league here to implement regime change...

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Henrik, wrote

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09:02am on 4 October 2011
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SA should'nt be listening to China. They can say what they want. I'm coming from Denmark, staying in SA and we (danes) had the same problem with China, as SA is facing now. Rattle the sword. The danish goverment told China to stay out of our business, our foreign minister told them, that next time anyone prominent guest wants to enter China, then maybe China should ask us, if we thought it would be ok. China's reaction (on a LIVE broadcast interview) "We don't think, thats any of Denmark's concern, who is entering China" Foreign minister of Denmark said "Well, there you go, you (China) doesnt have a saying in our country, as we dont have a saying in China" Dalai Lama got his visa and you know what? China never spoke about it again and we still trade with them. China just makes alot of noise. ANC should start to think and put a link between the battle for freedom in Tibet and ANC's own struggle for freedom. Support the weak nation, instead of the money coming from China. In case China slams the trading agreements, then let them. Start producing the goods here in SA instead and create some jobs here for SA workers. Just my point of view

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TelliT, wrote

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08:49am on 4 October 2011
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Why the fuss for this Dalai Lama, to be quite honest I would not lose sleep over this man's visa application being turned down. Mr Engelbrecht what do you mean the people have spoken? a group of 200 DA supporters marching for a DA cause does not represent the majority of South Africans, if you want a true reflection put it to the ballot then you will get a true feeling of "the majority has spoken". The Dalai Lama is not a major trading partner but china is. People are constantly trying to score cheap political points when there is absolutley no need to. Just because our wonderful Bishop Mr Desmond Tutu (and I say this with respect for the man) has made a bit of noise does not guarantee this man instant access into SA. Mr Desmond Tutu has a right to express himself on certain matters, but I honestly think he is getting involved in politics.

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:32am on 4 October 2011
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what does Zuma know that we dont know?the Dalai Lama is not dangerous, he is as lame as a lamb.

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:14am on 4 October 2011
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Da Rai Rama who? Da Rai Rama Malema?

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zandi, wrote

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08:12am on 4 October 2011
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When are we going to hear the end of this, they should just bring him in, he will not be here to cause trouble, yes china is our biggest trading partner so is America and they have allowed him in their country, our morals are at stake here if we don’t allow him to come in the country it will really ruin our reputation I mean the guy has been axed from china and they have no interest in him he is now a refugee of another country. South Africa needs to own up to their constitutional rights. I may not be fully informed about the trading industries but I don’t think if we allow Dalai Lama to enter the country we would lose much confidence with china to the point of losing our trading relationship (I stand to be corrected) I mean china is benefitting as mush as we do in this trading relationship.

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Sinies, wrote

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08:00am on 4 October 2011
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The Chinese have the ANC leadership in the (money) bag! Their money conquered Africa, it is already subject to the new colonial rule .......................................... who will be allowed in or out of here is no longer determined by the people of the land........ANC's integrity is a joke!

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zandi, wrote

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07:59am on 4 October 2011
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When are we going to hear the end of this, they should just bring him in, he will not be here to cause trouble, yes china is our biggest trading partner so is America and they have allowed him in their country, our morals are at stake here if we don’t allow him to come in the country it will really ruin our reputation I mean the guy has been axed from china and they have no interest in him he is now a refugee of another country. South Africa needs to own up to their constitutional rights. I may not be fully informed about the trading industries but I don’t think if we allow Dalai Lama to enter the country we would lose much confidence with china to the point of losing our trading relationship (I stand to be corrected) I mean china is benefitting as mush as we do in this trading relationship.

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Frank Hartry, wrote

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07:51am on 4 October 2011
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Why the usual deafening silence from Mandela who is deemed to be a great friend of the Dalai? He has spokespeople to speak for him. Is this a case of the ANC sticking together again and forgoiing any principle.

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Bas, wrote

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07:37am on 4 October 2011
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Has the ANC's post liberation morals descended to such a low depths, that we now also have our foreign policy dictated by Beijing?

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Mr. M, wrote

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07:37am on 4 October 2011
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Let the old guys have a party.

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Anonymous, wrote

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07:33am on 4 October 2011
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It seems the Dalai Lama's Dompas has expired - back to the homelands with him!

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kevin from sydney, wrote

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07:28am on 4 October 2011
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I'd hate to think our South African cousins were being imtimidated by China over this issue. The Dalai Lama is welcomed in Australia even though the Chinese don't like it. But that's too bad for them and I'd cringe if we ever sucumbed to any of their miserable pressure. C'mon South African's you're a lot bigger and better than that.

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Frank Hartry, wrote

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07:18am on 4 October 2011
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The dictator Gadaffi who obviously organised the downing of the plane over Lockerbie in 1989 killing over 250 people was always welcomed to South Africa by this despicable ANC government. The fact is that this administration under the wily rotund Zuma, who avoided his day in court to face hundreds of allegations of corruption, is an absolute disaster for South Africa. The violent Mugabe is idolised by this ANC government and welcomed by with open arms but not a peaceful man like the Dalai Lama. What a disgustinrg government this bunch have become. I am however surprised that Arch Tutu was not aware that there was a great possibility that the Dalai would not be allowed a visa and therefore should have checked with the government first before all of the embarrassment to South Africa by this ANC bunch.

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correspondent, wrote

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07:17am on 4 October 2011
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what would Steve Biko say... what would Mandela say, ... what would Albie Sachs say... shame on you Jacob Zuma.. where Chinese money comes, so does Chinese men..beware..of Chinese imperialaism

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Mark, wrote

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07:13am on 4 October 2011
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The Dalai Lama lives (and receives sanctury) in India. China and India trade extensively so what is the issue here?

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RGP, wrote

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07:00am on 4 October 2011
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Zuma is right when he said,"I dont think you can get a definate answer from me"> He has never been able to give a definate answer to any problem, and he certainly doesnt want to jeopardise any financial incentives from the chineese.

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Anonymous, wrote

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06:51am on 4 October 2011
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And Zuma Like Pontius Pilate washes his hands - and forces a stalemate

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