The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, to be held in Cape Town this month, has been cancelled.
As news of another three cancellations emerged – bringing to six the total number of Nobel laureates who have pulled out of the event to protest against the Dalai Lama’s visa debacle, the Daily News’s sister paper, the Cape Argus, has been told by independent sources, including from the security sector, that the event has been canned.
The City of Cape Town has confirmed that it will make an announcement on Thursday, but until then it will stick to its statement of a week ago that all preparations are on track.
Mayor Patricia de Lille said then that plans were “on track” and that the peace summit would go ahead “in the interests of peaceful dialogue” and in the spirit of “Madiba’s legacy”.
South Africa denied Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader permission to attend the summit to avoid angering China, which regards the Buddhist monk as a campaigner for Tibetan independence.
The women’s decision comes after 14 peace laureates earlier this month sent a letter to President Jacob Zuma urging him to grant the Dalai Lama a visa for what would be the first summit of its kind in Africa.
In an emotional letter to Tutu, Irish Laureate Betty Williams explained why she would not attend: “Shame on you South Africa, you throw all that hard work back in the faces of those who sacrificed for your freedom.
“His Holiness has non-violently struggled to regain a country that is rightfully his – Tibet. His struggle is my struggle. No entry for my friend, for me means, I do not wish to enter. I am available to reconsider my attendance if the summit is held in a different location.”
The six women who have confirmed their boycott are American activist Jody Williams, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, Yemeni journalist Tawakkol Karman, Northern Irish activist Mairead Maguire and a representative of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Accusing China of putting political pressure on countries to limit the monk’s freedom to travel, it noted “China’s public declaration of thanks for South Africa’s decision to block the spiritual leader from entering South Africa”.
The summit was backed by foundations representing four South African peace laureates – Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW De Klerk and Albert Luthuli. Previous summits have been held in cities such as Rome, Paris, Chicago and Warsaw.
Tutu, a friend of the Dalai Lama, has so far avoided commenting on the boycott, with his spokesman referring all queries to De Lille.