Ricochet News

Government blamed for Nobel Summit cancellation

By Charl Bosch - Oct 2, 2014
Government blamed for Nobel Summit cancellation

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has compared President Jacob Zuma to Judas Iscariot, after failing to intervene in granting a visa to the Dalai Lama, which has resulted in the cancellation of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates due to be hosted in Cape Town next week.

In a statement on its website, the party wrote, "Like Judas Iscariot, President Jacob Zuma’s ANC covenanted with the People’s Republic of China to betray the principles of a free, just and fair society by denying the Dalai Lama a visa for thirty pieces of silver.

"Like Judas, President Zuma loves money more than principles. He is willing to trade our country’s patrimony for everything we fought for, stand for and care about".

The party also blasted Zuma for being "unable and unwilling" to discuss the matter with the China, South Africa’s biggest trading partner.

"The irony is that Communist China will respect him more if he showed some courage and integrity. But his estimation of our nation is so low that he is willing to surrender everything we value for thirty pieces of silver," the party wrote.

"Our human-rights based foreign policy has been sacrificed on the altar of expediency and the party interests of the ANC. The national government makes a mockery of our nationhood, identity and values. We shrink in embarrassment at the shoddy treatment of the community of Nobel Laureates."

Speaking at a ceremony held in Dharamshala, India, where he is based, the Dalai Lama accused the South African government of "bullying a simple person" after fellow laureates had objected to him not been allocated a visa.

"Not a single laureate is happy about that decision (to cancel). Fourteen laureates protested to President Zuma, pressuring him, begging 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," International Campaign to Ban Landmines founder and fellow laureate, Jody Williams said at the gathering.

"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".

The Summit’s cancellation was also welcomed by the Tibetan National Congress (TNC) with its president, Jigme Ugen, labelling the act as “standing up to the Chinese government, the only regime in the world currently imprisoning a Nobel Peace Laureate”

"The action of the Nobel laureates, in boycotting and relocating the Summit, is a testament to the strength of the universal ideals of freedom for which His Holiness the Dalai Lama stands, and of the power of collective action to successfully resist the bullying tactics of the Chinese government," Ugen said in a statement.

Having remained mum since the matter broke, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, whose foundation along with those of South Africa’s four other Peace laureates, FW de Klerk, Nelson Mandela and Albert Luthuli where set to host the event, broke his silence by branding the government as "spineless" and that he is "ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government".

"When His Holiness was prevented by our government from attending my 80th birthday, I condemned that kowtowing to the Chinese roundly and reminded the ANC government that it did not represent me," Tutu said in a statement.

"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.

"The Nobel Summit in Cape Town, the first to be held on our continent, was meant to celebrate Madiba. His own comrades have spat in his face, refusing to see him honoured by the holders of the blue ribbon of awards and honours".


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