Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Dalai Lama drops plans to travel to South Africa
October 4, 2011 --
Johannesburg (CNN) -- The Dalai Lama canceled his planned trip to South Africa this week after the nation failed to issue him a visa, his spokesman said.
"His Holiness has thus decided to call off his upcoming visit to South Africa," according to a statement from Tempa Tsering. "And, he regrets the inconveniences caused to his hosts and the large number of South African public who were keenly waiting to receive him and hear his message."
South Africa's foreign affairs office said it did not refuse the Dalai Lama a visa.
"South Africa will not comment on the decision, because it is not our decision, it is his decision," according to spokesman Clayson Monyela, who said the visa application was still under consideration.
Dalai Lama sparks outrage in S. Africa The Dalai Lama had been invited to the country to receive the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation and speak at a number of events, including a lecture in honor of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday.
In 2009, South Africa refused the Dalai Lama a visa to attend an international peace conference, saying it was not in the country's interest for him to attend. Monyela said this application has nothing to do with China.
"We are a sovereign nation which takes decisions in our domestic interest," Monyela said.
In refusing the 2009 application, South Africa said that, if the Dalai Lama attended the conference, the focus would shift away from the 2010 World Cup -- the global soccer championship it was hosting the following year.
"We cannot allow focus to shift to China and Tibet," Masebe said, adding that South Africa has gained much from its trading relationship with China.
The Dalai Lama fled China in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.