South Africa bans Dalai Lama



South Africa would not grant the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, a visa to attend a Johannesburg peace conference this week, along with fellow Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former South African President Nelson Mandela, and FW de Klerk. The conference is linked to the 2010 Football World Cup, hosted by South Africa.

Tutu and de Klerk have said they will not attend the conference now, but Mandela’s position is unknown, at this time. The mission of the conference is to explore ways football can help combat racism and xenophobia (an unreasonable fear, distrust, or hatred of anything foreign, including people).

A spokesperson for the South African government denied accusations that the Dalai Lama was banned because of the country’s trade relationship with China. The spokesperson said the Dalai Lama’s visit would draw attention away from South Africa and the World Cup, and redirect the focus to issues pertaining to Tibet.

“We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure,” Archbishop Tutu told the Sunday Independent. “I feel deeply distressed and ashamed.” The Dalai Lama also accused South Africa of giving in to “intense pressure” from the Chinese government.

Speak your peace.

(Images: The Dalai Lama and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe )

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