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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

South Africa denies visa to Dalai Lama

Naresh K Thakur, Hindustan Times  Dharamasala, September 04, 2014
First Published: 19:39 IST(4/9/2014) | Last Updated: 19:46 IST(4/9/2014)

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will have to call off a trip to South Africa once again as Cape Town has denied visa to the Nobel Peace laureate -- third time in five years. The spiritual leader was scheduled to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates to be held in Cape Town next month.
 
“The (South  African) officials from the department of international relations conveyed to me over phone that they will not be able to grant visa for the reason that it would disturb relations between China and South Africa," said reports quoting the Dalai Lama's representative in South Africa, Nangsa Choedon.
The summit is being organised by a foundation representing four South African Nobel peace laureates -- Nelson Mandela, Fw de Klerk, Albert Luthuli and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a close friend of Dalai Lama. 
"For now, the Dalai Lama has decided to cancel his trip to South Africa," Choedon was quoted as saying adding that his office had yet not received the confirmation of the refusal. Meanwhile, Dalai Lama's private office at Dharamsala refused to comment on the issue.
“Right now we have nothing to say on the issue,” said Tenzin Taklah, private secretary of the spiritual leader. 
The officials from the department of information and international relations, Central Tibetan Administration (also called Tibetan government-in-exile) too refused to comment. 

This is for the third times since 2009 that the Dalai Lama has been refused a South African Visa. Earlier, Cape Town denied him visa in October 2011 when he was invited to attend the 80th birthday celebration of fellow Nobel peace laureate and anti- apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond. 

This had sparked an outrage in South Africa with citizens and leaders blasting their government for buckling under China's pressure. An outraged Tutu had accused the government of being worse than the apartheid regime for its actions.

The Dalai Lama had reacted to the controversy by saying, “I don't want any inconvenience to any country because of me.”

In 2012, a South African court had ruled that the South African government acted “unlawfully” and “unreasonably delayed” the decision on a visa application by the Dalai Lama, largely out of fears of drawing China's anger.
 
Earlier, the South African government had barred the spiritual leader from entry into the country in 2009, citing that it would detract attention from the 2010 Football World Cup. At that time, he was invited to attend the 'Nobel Laureates' Peace Conference'.

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