South Africas decision to ban Dalai Lama outrages Nobel peace laureates

March 23rd, 2009 - 12:36 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar 23 (ANI): Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been barred from entering South Africa to take part in a peace conference linked to the 2010 football World Cup, plunging the country into a diplomatic row.

The decision was met with outrage by fellow Nobel peace laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the former President F. W. de Klerk, who are organising the conference on March 27 with the Norwegian Nobel Peace Committee.

Archbishop Tutu urged the South African Government, which has close ties to China, to reconsider its disgraceful decision and threatened to boycott the meeting, planned to promote the first World Cup tournament to be held in Africa, The Times reported.

If His Holinesss visa is refused, then I wont take part in the upcoming 2010 World Cup-related peace conference. I will condemn the Governments behaviour as disgraceful, in line with our abysmal record at the UN Security Council, a total betrayal of our struggle history.

We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure. I feel deeply distressed and ashamed, he said from California.

South Africa vetoed proposals for tougher sanctions against Zimbabwe and Burma when it occupied a non-permanent seat on the Security Council last year.

An invitation to the conference was also issued in the name of Nelson Mandela, another laureate. He has not yet reacted to the Governments decision.

A senior presidential aide told The Times that the Dalai Lamas presence in the country would not be welcome as it would divert attention away from the World Cup towards the Tibet issue.

Dave Steward, a spokesman for the F. W. de Klerk Foundation, said that the former President has expressed concern to the presidency and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

South Africa is Chinas main trading partner in Africa and accounts for more than 20 per cent of Beijings trade with the continent. (ANI)

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