Planned Nobel summit ‘suspended’ as South Africa denies visa to Dalai Lama
JOHANNESBURG: Cape Town mayor on Thursday suspended a
planned summit of Nobel peace laureates, blaming the South African government’s
‘intransigence’ in refusing to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama.
South Africa has three times turned down a request to
grant the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader a visa, as it tried to build closer
ties with China. A number of Nobel Peace Prize winners had tried to force the
South African government to reverse its decision, by threatening to boycott the
event, but they appear to have failed.
“After extensive discussion and deliberation, it has
been decided that the 2014 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, planned for
13-15 October 2014 in Cape Town, will be suspended,” the city authorities said
in a statement.
“The majority of Nobel Laureates and Laureate
institutions requested that either the summit be moved to another country, or
that the visa to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, be granted unconditionally.”
“Given the continued intransigence of the South
African Government on this matter, this eventuality appears unlikely at best,”
said the opposition-controlled city. The Dalai Lama on Thursday accused South
Africa of ‘bullying a simple person’.
The Tibetan leader thanked his fellow peace laureates
for their efforts, saying they had ‘worked hard’ to resolve the issue.
He made his comments at a ceremony in Dharamshala
attended by two fellow laureates - Jody Williams, founder of the International
Campaign to Ban Landmines, and the Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi -
both of whom are boycotting the South Africa summit.
Williams accused President Jacob Zuma’s government of
'selling its sovereignty' to China. “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 (the Dalai Lama) so
that we all could be together and celebrate in South Africa the legacy of
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since
fleeing Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising. China accuses the 79-year-old of
being a separatist, while he says he merely wants more autonomy for Tibet.