Dalai Lama visa refusal causes first cancellations


Three Nobel peace laureates have announced that that they will not be travelling to South Africa next month out of protest against Pretoria’s refusal to grant a visa for the Dalai Lama.

On Wednesday, American political activist Jody Williams, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, stated that they won't be attending the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, set to be hosted in Cape Town on October 13th-15th, after the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visa application was rebuked on September 8th.

It has also since been revealed that representatives of the group, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, have also pulled the plug on their visit.

Observes have cited South Africa’s close trading relations with China, who view the Dalai Lama as a separatist following Tibet’s uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, as the main reason for the visa cancellation. It also marks the third time in five years that the Dalai Lama has been refused entry into the country.

Earlier this month, fourteen laureates, including Polish president Lech Walesa, Bangladeshi entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Northern Irish peacemakers David Trimble and John Hume, wrote a letter asking President Jacob Zuma to intervene with the matter.

"We understand the sensitivities involved - but would like to point out that His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, no longer holds any political office. [Instead], he would participate in the summit solely in his capacity as a globally respected spiritual leader," the group wrote.