South African minister criticises government for snub to Dalai Lama

March 25th, 2009 - 1:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, March 25 (DPA) Health Minister Barbara Hogan called on the South African government to apologise for refusing the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a peace conference, local news reported.
“Just the very fact that this government has refused entry to the Dalai Lama is an example of a government that is dismissive of human rights,” SAPA news agency quoted Hogan as saying.

“I believe (the government) needs to apologise to the citizens of this country, because it is in your name that this great man who has struggled for the rights of his country has been denied access.”

On Tuesday, the controversy surrounding the attendance of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, at the SA Peace Conference prompted organisers to postpone the Friday event.

The Dalai Lama was expected to address the conference, designed to discuss ways of using football to fight racism and xenophobia ahead of the 2010 Football World Cup.

But the government refused to grant him a visa, saying his involvement would draw the world’s attention from the World Cup preparations, drawing criticism that it had given in to pressure from China.

The government was set to stick to its position for the duration of the tournament, South African radio reported Wednesday.

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