Laureates could boycott World Summit amid Dalai Lama visa row

The Dalai Lama greets the audience at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington February 20, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Gary Cameron

JOHANNESBURG - The Tibetan National Congress on Monday condemned the possible denial of a visa to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama by South Africa’s government, which would effectively bar the spiritual leader's attendance at the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town.

The Congress further requested that the Nobel Peace Laureates invited to the summit take a unified stand to forego attendance unless the Dalai Lama is permitted to attend as well.

This comes after he was invited to attend the event, and had filed a visa application with the South African High Commission in New Delhi, the outcome of which is still pending.

"The South African High Commission in New Delhi has received a visa application from the office of the Dalai Lama for a planned visit to South Africa," International relations department spokesman Clayson Monyela said in a statement on Thursday.

"The application will be taken through normal due process. The relevant authorities will communicate with the applicant thereafter."

Nangsa Choedon, the Dalai Lama’s representative in South Africa, told eNCA that she had received a call from a Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) representative on Thursday informing her that the Dalai Lama’s visa application was not going to be approved.

When asked what reason was given, she said: “We were told this was a decision taken in the national interest, so as not to disturb the relations between South Africa and China.”

This was the third time in five years the Dalai Lama had difficulty in securing a visa to enter South Africa.

In 2011 he was due to visit his good friend Archbiship emeritus Desmond Tutu on his 80th birthday in 2011, but was not granted a visa. He was also refused in 2009. He also declined, without giving reasons, to attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral last December.

Choedon said the Dalai Lama was always concerned about the wellbeing of others and was not thinking of himself. Choedon said when she told him about the decision his response was that he will cancel his trip. But in the meanwhile he is waiting to hear about the decision formally.

A final cancellation would depend on the organisers and the government. If he feels there is a big problem, he is considering cancellation.             

- Palesa Manaleng


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