Dalai Lama’s Visa Request Denied by South Africa
In a previous blog titled, The new Tibetan Prime Miniister-In-Exile I wrote the following: “Despite his best efforts, there is no doubt the Chinese government will continue to demonize the Dalai Lama as a separatist wherever he travels despite his life’s mission to bridge differences between the parties. The Chinese government regularly warns world leaders not to meet with Dalai Lama, or risk political repercussions. A sad state, which requires confident world leaders to look past political threats and see the Dalai Lama as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate that he is.” And on this note, I’d like to offer a recent disappointing example of the South African government folding to Chinese political pressure by denying the Dalai Lama a request for a Visa in order to attend fellow Nobel laureate and friend, Desmond M. Tutu’s 80th birthday celebration (2011). Despite what excuses the South African government may offer for the denial of the Visa, the reason is simple, China is South Africa’s largest trade partner and with such a partnership there are always concessions that are in order. Unfortunately, when one gets in bed with China, it’s sad how quickly moral values are conceded and in South Africa’s case, respect for its own long history of fighting civil injustice as well. By ending apartheid, I believed new South African leaders had garnered a tremendous amount of world credibility and a respected voice on international civil rights issues if they chose to use it. Unfortunately, for those still suffering and fighting for civil rights around the world today, I wouldn’t expect South African leaders to speak up without big brother Beijing’s permission. It appears civil rights, which will forever embody the history of South Africa, is now nowhere near the forefront of their government’s agenda any longer ~ a sad state of forgetting where you came from if you ask me.. In a show of support for his friend, Archbishop Tutu lashed out at the South African government, calling its conduct disgraceful and discourteous toward the Dalai Lama. More specifically, he also criticized President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress directly saying his government doesn’t represent him and only represents their own interests. In 2006, I had the great pleasure to see the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu speak at the Hiroshima International Peace Summit. Incidentally, the governor of Hiroshima at the time did not attend the event for world peace in his own city, need I explain why..