Anger as South Africa fails to grant Dalai Lama entry
The Dalai Lama cancelled a trip yesterday to South Africa after Pretoria failed to grant him a visa, prompting suggestions that President Jacob Zuma was appeasing China, his country's biggest trading partner.
The Tibetan spiritual leader had been invited by fellow Nobel Peace prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu to deliver the opening lecture at the anti-apartheid leader's 80th birthday celebrations. He had planned to arrive tomorrow, but announced he was withdrawing his application after it was ignored by South African authorities.
A spokesman for Bishop Tutu's office said: "I do not even have the words to say how sad I feel. This is the darkest day."
Earlier, the bishop said the way the authorities had ignored the visa application was reminiscent of how applications for travel by black South Africans were handled under apartheid.
A spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile said Pretoria had acted out of fear of angering China. "We are very disappointed that a sovereign nation like South Africa would succumb to Chinese pressure," said a spokesman.
South Africa had previously denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a 2010 peace conference.
At the time, it admitted that it was acting out of deference to Beijing, which has viewed the Tibetan leader as a threat since 1959 when he fled after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.
On this occasion, the South African foreign ministry said it "was his decision" to pull out of the trip. (© Daily Telegraph, London)