Posted by: becketfund | March 26, 2009

South Africa: Refuses Dalai Lama Visa to Attend Peace Conference

PRETORIA – A peace conference for Nobel laureates in South Africa has been postponed indefinitely after Pretoria refused the Dalai Lama a visa according to organizers, the BBC reported on March 24. This week’s meeting in Johannesburg was linked to the 2010 Football World Cup, which the country is hosting. A storm of controversy erupted over the ban, with the government being accused of bowing to Chinese pressure. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President FW de Klerk pulled out of the meeting in protest. Despite the controversy surrounding the decision, government spokesman Thabo Masebe confirmed that no visa would be issued “between now and the World Cup.” Saying the move did not amount to a ban, he told the BBC that no other government had forced the decision on South Africa. The visa had been declined because the Dalai Lama’s presence “would not be in the best interests of South Africa at this time,” he said. Chinese officials in Pretoria however, said Beijing had warned against allowing the Dalai Lama into the country, saying it would harm bilateral relations.

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