(TibetanReview.net, Sep17, 2014) – Fourteen Nobel Peace laureates have come together to pen an appeal to President Jacob Zuma, asking him to guarantee the Dalai Lama a visa to South Africa, after the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader was forced to abandon a trip to the country for the third successive time in the last five years. The current appeal is to enable him to attend the 14th annual summit of Nobel peace prize winners in Cape Town from Oct 13 to 15. The country is hosting the summit for the first time.
While Pretoria was reported to have denied him a visa for fear of offending China, the country’s biggest single trading partner, the Nobel Peace laureates have said in their appeal, “We are deeply concerned about the damage that will be done to South Africa’s international image by a refusal — or failure — to grant him a visa yet again.”
They have also pointed out: “We understand the sensitivities involved — but would like to point out that His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, no longer holds any political office.” Instead, they have insisted, he “would participate in the summit solely in his capacity as a globally respected spiritual leader.”
Those who signed the petition included Poland’s Lech Walesa, Bangladeshi entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Northern Irish peacemakers David Trimble and John Hume, reported the AFP Sep 16.
South Africa had, on each occasion, dragged its heels until the Dalai Lama called off his trip. And these were followed by outcries from the country’s public who see it as a betrayal of the commitment to human rights embraced by their government since the end of the apartheid rule 20 years ago.
The Cape Town summit is being organized by foundations representing four South African peace laureates — Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Albert Luthuli. Along with the surviving South Africans — Tutu and de Klerk — the organisers have said 13 individuals and eight organisations had confirmed that they would attend the summit, including former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.
Previous summits have been held in cities that included Rome, Paris, Chicago and Warsaw.