Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Africa Turns Away Dalai Lama, Political Firestorm Follows

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Africa Turns Away Dalai Lama, Political Firestorm Follows

Article excerpt

South Africa's decision to deny a visa to the Dalai Lama - spiritual leader of the Tibetan people - appears to have backfired. Officials hoped that turning away Tibet's most famous monk would keep the "focus" on its upcoming 2010 World Cup soccer tournament and keep the games from being overshadowed by politics. But instead South Africa has kicked up a firestorm over its commitment to human rights and its increasingly close ties with China. A nation that freed itself from an apartheid government, South Africa would seem to have much in common with leading liberation figures like the Dalai Lama, who speaks for about 5.4 million Tibetans, who live under Chinese rule. But as a nation that depends heavily on Chinese markets for buying its rich natural resources, South Africa has given the appearance of having chosen commerce over principle. It's a decision that could cost South Africa its moral voice on the global stage. "Because of the role of the ANC during the liberal struggle against apartheid, South Africa was seen as a beacon of all things moral, a beacon of human rights," says Aubrey Matshiqi, a senior political analyst (and former member of the ANC, the ruling African National Congress) at the Center for Policy Studies in Johannesburg. "Unfortunately, the reality is that when the South African government was tested on its principles, it has fallen short." Like China's own 2008 Summer Olympics, South Africa views its coming 2010 World Cup as a kind of coming-out party, and thus, not something to be messed up with politics. Officials insist their decision to deny a visa to the Dalai Lama - technically, they add, he was never invited - was made without Chinese influence, but it has incurred damaging political criticism because of China's human rights record in Tibet - which it has occupied since 1959. A scheduled peace conference in Cape Town, called by the support committee of the 2010 World Cup and intended to show the bridge between peace and sport, has now been postponed. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.