3 minute read
5 Sep 2014
5:10 pm

DA wants reasons for Dalai Lama visa rejection

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane must provide reasons why the Dalai Lama's travel visa application in India for entry to South Africa was rejected, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.

FILE PICTURE: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. (Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)

“South Africa’s law allows for visas to be denied under very particular circumstances. The minister must indicate under exactly what legal reason she chose to deny the Dalai Lama a visa,” DA MP Stevens Mokgalapa said in a statement.

“On all the three past occasions, [the department] has been unwilling to explain to the nation and the rest of the world why it was that our democracy, which respects all cultures and creeds, would not allow a Nobel prize-winning religious figure into our country.”

He said this compromised the country’s moral standing globally.

Earlier, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said national government was being disingenuous about the application.

She said officials of the international relations department contacted the spiritual leader’s office to inform them that the South African government would not grant him a visa to attend a summit due to sensitivities related to the Chinese government.

This was according to representatives of the offices in the country and in India, she said.

“This makes [the department’s] statement of yesterday [Thursday], that they were processing his visa application using normal processes, entirely disingenuous.

“The fact is that, on the basis of the national government’s telephonic contact with the office of the Dalai Lama, it was clear that his application was going to be refused and His Holiness withdrew his application to avoid any further embarrassment,” De Lille said.

The department on Thursday said the Dalai Lama’s visa application was a closed matter, and that he had cancelled his trip.

“The [department] has received written confirmation from the office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in India indicating that [he] has cancelled his planned visit to South Africa,” spokesman Clayson Monyela said in a statement.

The Cape Times had reported earlier on Thursday that the Tibetan spiritual leader had again been refused entry to the country, this time for the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

His representative in South Africa, Nangsa Choedon, said department officials phoned her office in the past week to say they would not be granting the visa. They had not yet received written confirmation.

“For now the Dalai Lama has decided to cancel his trip to South Africa,” Choedon was quoted as saying.

The summit, an annual gathering, is being held in Cape Town next month. De Lille will host the event.

Arrangements were being made by a local organising committee formed by the foundations representing four South African laureates — Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, and Albert Luthuli.

The Cape Times reported that other Nobel Peace Laureates told Tutu they would not come if the Dalai Lama was not permitted to enter the country.

This was the third time in five years the Dalai Lama could not secure a visa to enter South Africa.

“It is indeed a dark day for South Africa when the ideals for which Nelson Mandela and so many others fought are sold to the highest bidder,” De Lille said on Thursday.

The summit would continue as planned.

The four foundations would write to President Jacob Zuma asking him to intervene and ensure a visa was granted so that he could attend the summit.

A number of laureates had already signed a petition, she said.

“If this last attempt at securing a visa is unsuccessful, 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.”