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Cape Town mayor calls her gov’t disingenuous on Dalai Lama visa issue

The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Patricia De Lille. Photo courtesy: Halden Krog)
The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Patricia De Lille. Photo courtesy: Halden Krog)

(TibetanReview.net, Sep08, 2014) – Despite having adopted an official position that the application for a visa for Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates to be held in Cape Town from Oct 13 to 15, was still under process, the Mayor of the host city has confirmed that her government had already decided not to allow the trip. Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille has accused her government of being disingenuous about the issue – having made up its mind not to grant the visa and yet maintaining an official position that it was still under process.

Bringing the real situation out in the open, the mayor has said in a statement Sep 5: “Based on further discussions with the Dalai Lama’s representatives both in South Africa and Dharamsala, it has now become clear that the officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) contacted the Dalai Lama’s office to inform them that the South Africa government would not grant him a visa to attend the summit, due to sensitivities related to the Chinese government.”

The mayor has slammed her government’s decision on moral and ethical grounds, saying, “The actions of DIRCO are absolutely appalling, and an affront to a key theme of the summit: celebrating 20 years of South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela.”

She has called it a dark day for South Africa “when the ideals for which Nelson Mandela and so many others fought are sold to the highest bidder.”

The statement further said The Mandela, Luthuli, De Klerk, and Tutu Foundations, which are organizing the summit for the first time in South Africa, will be writing to President Jacob Zuma, appealing to him to intervene and ensure that a visa is granted to the Dalai Lama so that he can attend the summit.

The statement said past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize (including former heads of State) will also write a petition to Mr Zuma. “Nobel Peace Laureates who have already signed the letter of appeal to President Zuma include President Lech Walesa, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Muhammad Yunus, Jody Williams, Betty Williams, Tawakkul Karman, Leimah Gbowee, and Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo,” the statement said.

The Mayor has made it clear that if visa is still denied, “the programme of the summit will be adapted to ensure that the Nobel Peace Laureates can make a powerful symbolic protest of the Dalai Lama’s treatment.”

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