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De Lille blasts government for Summit cancellation

De Lille blasts government for Summit cancellation

City of Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille, has branded the ANC-led government "an embarrassment" for failing to issue a visa for the Dalai Lama, which has resulted in the cancellation of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates due for Cape Town next week.

The Tibetan Spiritual leader had his visa application rejected last month, with many citing relations between South Africa and its biggest trading partner, China, as the main reason.

"In light of this appalling treatment of the Dalai Lama by the South African government, the [summit's] permanent secretariat had no choice but to contact the Nobel laureates and institutions with a view to identifying possible dates and alternative locations so that they can participate in the Nobel summit as they intended,” de Lille told journalist at a press conference late yesterday afternoon.

"The national government has treated our requests and those of the laureates themselves with disdain, and in so doing showed that they are more intent on pleasing Beijing than with ensuring that a prestigious international event is held in South Africa, which was intended to celebrate the late Nelson Mandela and 20 years of democracy".

In a statement, former President FW de Klerk, whose foundation along with those of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Albert Lethuli were due to host the event, said that the “government did not want the Summit to be held in South Africa, because it was concerned about the criticism that participants would inevitably direct against it for its refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama".

"Our foreign policy is supposed to reflect the values in our Constitution. The refusal of a visa to the Dalai Lama is the antithesis of those values," de Klerk said.

"Although we were always political opponents I always had the greatest respect for President Mandela and President Mbeki. Under their leadership South Africans could hold their heads up high in the international community.

"That is unfortunately no longer the case. In the steady continuum of decline since 2008, the suspension of the Cape Town Summit may be seen by future historians as the point at which South Africa finally lost its claim to represent something special in Africa and something noble in the international community".

Speaking from his Indian base of Dharamshala yesterday, the Dalai Lama said that the South African government had "bullied a simple person" while fellow laureate and founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams, told gathers at the event, "Fourteen laureates protested to President Zuma, pressuring him to give a visa to His Holiness so that we all could be together and celebrate in South Africa the legacy of Nelson Mandela".

"We could not go, and the message we were sending... was a message of protest to China. It was a message of protest to governments who sell their soul and their sovereignty to China, as South Africa did."

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu also broke his silence on the matter yesterday, labelling the government as “spineless” before stating, "I am ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government".


CAPTION: City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, has blasted the government for not providing a visa to the Dalai Lama, which has resulted in the cancellation of next week's World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town. IMAGE sourced from www.capetown.gov.za