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02 Oct 2014 09:05
Archbishop Desmond Tutu criticised the government over its refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa, that it shot itself in the same foot thrice over. (David Harrison, M&G)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Wednesday criticised the government for refusing a visa to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
In a statement, Tutu said that he was “ashamed to call this lickspittle bunch my government”.
It was reported last month that the Dalai Lama had again been refused entry to the country, this time for the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates which was to be held in Cape Town from October 13 to October 15.
According to media reports on Wednesday, the summit had been cancelled.
The cancellation came after more laureates pulled out of the event to protest against the South African government’s refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.
It was the third time in five years the Dalai Lama could not secure a visa to enter South Africa.
A ‘spineless’ government
Tutu said he could not “believe that the South African government could shoot itself in the same foot thrice over”.
“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.”
“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.”
He said the Nobel summit, the first to be held in Africa, was meant to celebrate former president Nelson Mandela. “His own comrades have spat in his face, refusing to see him honoured by the holders of the blue ribbon of awards and honours,” Tutu said.
Last month, 14 Nobel laureates wrote to President Jacob Zuma asking that a South African travel visa be granted to the Dalai Lama.
The presidency confirmed Zuma received the letter and that he would respond directly to the laureates.
At the time the international relations department said the Dalai Lama’s visa application was a closed matter, and that he had cancelled his trip.
The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is set to make an announcement on Thursday related to the summit.
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