Civil Society in South Africa Deplores Failure to Give Visa to Dalai Lama

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Johannesburg. 4 October 2011.  The South African government should stand by its founding values by granting a visa to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, urged civil society in South Africa today.

The Dalai Lama was due to visit South Africa from 6-8 October to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was expected to deliver the inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace lecture at the University of the Western Cape. Delay in granting him a visa by the South African government has now resulted in him cancelling his trip to the country.

In 2009, the Dalai Lama was denied permission to visit South Africa under apparent pressure from the Chinese government which strongly opposes his support for the human rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people.

“In many regions of the world civil society members are being persecuted for their beliefs and impeded from engaging with the international community due to restrictive visa regimes,” said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. “… it is highly disturbing that this can happen in democratic South Africa, a number of whose leaders also had to wage their struggle for human rights in exile.”

Enhancing democracy and human rights as well as upholding justice and international law in relations between nations are important pillars of South Africa’s foreign policy. South Africa is also a founding member of the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) trilateral of multi-ethnic and multicultural democracies, which is committed to the establishment of a new international architecture. Recent violent attacks on peaceful protestors by the police, proposed curbs on the freedom of information through impending legislation and the current controversy generated around the visit of the Dalai Lama are marring South Africa’s reputation as a vibrant democracy and human rights leader.

“It is untenable and hypocritical for the South African authorities to even consider denying the Dalai Lama a visa under pressure from a foreign government,” said Srinath.

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Carter Fasts with Gazans

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Carter, Religious Jews Fast With Gaza

Palestine Chronicle

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Former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife fasted in solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip who are living under siege.

About going without for day Carter laughed it off and said, “I didn’t miss the food at all, but I missed water.”

He said, “I spent all day thinking of the people of Gaza and the harsh conditions of life imposed on them by the embargo.” The former US President said that he prayed for the Palestinians of Gaza while fasting for the first time in his more than 80 years of life.

Jimmy Carter said that he had received a call from Khahamat religious Jews in the United States who told him that they had already begun fasting once a week in solidarity with Gaza and its people, and asked him to join them, but he and his wife decided that they would do so alone and already had started to do so.

Carter’s speech came during iftar, the evening meal, held at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah. It included members of the Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, and a number of Palestinian intellectuals, businessmen and representatives of civil society institutions.

During the meal to break the day’s Ramadan fast, the group exchanged views. Desmond Tutu said, “I’ve heard many Palestinian and Israeli youth. I have heard things that are very impressive, but I felt the presence of hope in spite of the occupation and the suffering of the Palestinians that it causes, which is very important.”

Speaking of politics, Carter said, “We must not forget that all the Israeli settlements to the east of the Green Line are illegal, how can you talk about a settlement freeze” in a clear reference to what is being talked about these days from the current US administration led by Obama.

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