Dalai Lama denied visa to South Africa: Report

March 22nd, 2009 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, March 22 (DPA) South Africa’s popular archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has threatened to boycott a peace conference planned for next week in Johannesburg after the South African government reportedly denied the Dalai Lama a visa, a newspaper said Sunday.
South Africa’s Sunday Independent quoted an angry Tutu as saying: “If His Holiness’s visa is refused, then I won’t take part in the upcoming 2010 World Cup-related peace conference.”

The Nobel Peace Prize winner accused South Africa, which has close ties with China, of “shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure” and said he was “ashamed”.

The Dalai Lama had been billed to share the stage at the peace conference with Tutu and former presidents Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk, all Nobel laureates like the Tibetan spiritual leader.

A spokesman for the F.W. de Klerk Foundation told the Independent that De Klerk “and other laureates” would also reconsider their position in the event and warned of damage to the World Cup, which is being staged next year in South Africa.

The Independent said the Dalai Lama was denied a visa March 4. A Chinese embassy official in Pretoria told the paper that his government had asked the South African government not to grant the visa and had warned it would damage bilateral relations.

A spokesman for South Africa’s foreign affairs ministry said the Dalai Lama had not been invited to the conference and ruled out any Chinese interference.

The scandal comes on the 50th anniversary of a failed anti-Chinese uprising in Tibet, an autonomous Chinese region that Beijing claims as part of its sovereign territory but which the Dalai Lama says was independent before being colonised by China.

After the uprising that was brutally suppressed, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he established a government in exile.

In the run-up to last year’s Beijing Olympics, the authorities brutally repressed a wave of anti-Chinese protests in Tibet.

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