Cape Town mayor expresses displeasure over her government’s position on Dalai Lama’s visa issue

DHARAMSALA, Sep 9: The mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille on Sep 5 accused her government of being disingenuous as the South African government, on one hand refused to grant a visa to the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and on the other hand, maintained that the Tibetan Nobel laureate’s visa application is being processed using normal processes.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille

She was responding to a statement by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on Sep 4 that they were processing his visa application using normal processes.

“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.

It is the third time in five years that the South African government has denied a visa to the 79-yr-old Tibetan leader, this time for the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates to be held in Cape Town next month.

“The actions of DIRCO are absolutely appalling, and an affront to a key theme of the summit: celebrating 20 years of South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela,” De Lille said on Sep 4.

“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.”

The Mandela, Luthuli, De Klerk, and Tutu Foundations will be writing to President Zuma appealing to him to intervene and ensure that a visa is granted to the Dalai Lama so that he can attend the summit.

Past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize (including former heads of State) will also write a petition to President Zuma. The Nobel Peace Laureates who have already signed the letter of appeal to President Zuma include President Lech Walesa, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Muhammad Yunus, Jody Williams, Betty Williams, Tawakkul Karman, Leimah Gbowee, and Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo.

The mayor further stated “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”.





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