Nobel Peace summit quits South Africa over Dalai Lama snub

The Dalai Lama flanked by fellow Nobel peace laureates Shirin Ebadi (right) and Jody Williams in Dharamsala. Photograph: Norbu /Tibetan Review
The Dalai Lama flanked by fellow Nobel peace laureates Shirin Ebadi (right) and Jody Williams in Dharamsala. Photograph: Norbu /Tibetan Review

(, Oct03, 2014) – After it was boycotted by six women laureates, the organizers of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace laureates, otherwise slated to be held in Cape Town over Oct 13-15, have given up their resolve to stick to their original schedule and venue without the Dalai Lama. The organizers had hoped to use that to send a powerful message on the South African government’s appalling treatment of the Dalai Lama. But after four women Nobel Peace laureates were joined by two more in boycotting the event, the organizers have resolved that suspending the event or shifting the venue to some other country would be the appropriate response to Pretoria’s denial of visa for the 1989 peace laureate.

“We are proud to say that our protest resulted in cancelation of the world summit. It has been called off as many Nobel Peace laureates refused to go,” Oct 1 quoted Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner, as saying.

Likewise, Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who won the prize in 2003, has said, “I remember that about eight years ago there was going to be a summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Costa Rica, where president Oscar Arias Sanchez himself was a Nobel Prize winner; (but) due to pressure of the China government (he) had pulled back the invitation from the Dalai Lama.” She has added that none of them participated in the summit at that time in order to make Beijing realize that the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet were not alone.

This year’s summit is being backed by foundations representing four South African peace laureates – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Albert Luthuli. It was to be hosted by two surviving South African Nobel laureates-Tutu and de Klerk to celebrate former president Nelson Mandela on the occasion of South Africa’s 20th year of democracy.

The summit is an annual event in the field of peacemaking and brings together Nobel Prize winners, high-profile leaders and organizations from around the globe. It was created by Vadim Zagladin and the Gorbachev Foundation and is chaired by former Soviet president and Nobel Peace laureate Mikhail Gorbachev, with former mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni as co-chair.

Meanwhile, Tutu has expressed bitter disappointment with his government for refusing visa to the Dalai Lama for the third time in the last five years. “I am ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government,” Oct 2 quoted him as saying in a statement. He said he could not “believe that the South African government could shoot itself in the same foot thrice over”.

He recalled that when the Dalai Lama was prevented by his government from attending his 80th birthday, he condemned that kowtowing to the Chinese roundly and reminded the ANC government that it did not represent him. “I warned them then that just as we had prayed for the downfall of the apartheid government so we would pray for the demise of a government that could be so spineless.”

He accused Mandela’s heirs in the ruling African National Congress party under President Jacob Zuma of having now “spat in (Mandela’s) face” as the summit was meant to celebrate the country’s first president.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here