South Africa has refused the Dalai Lama a visa to attend an international peace conference in Johannesburg this week, a presidential spokesman said.
South Africa thinks that, if the Dalai Lama attended the conference, the focus would shift away from the 2010 World Cup — the global soccer championship it will host next 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.
This is total crap and has nothing to do with the World Cup. China has told their trading partners that the Dalai Lama isn’t to go if South Africa wants to keep getting cheap goods from them. Not only is this a message to South Africa, but a message to any country completely dependent on Chinese goods (and can’t defend themselves).
Luckily, there’s already a lot of blow back from this decision:
The Dalai Lama’s fellow [Nobel] laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said he would boycott the event.
Former president F.W. De Klerk, another laureate, backed Tutu, saying in a statement that he would also not participate in the conference if the Dalai Lama remained excluded.
De Klerk said that the decision to refuse the visa made a “mockery” of the peace conference.
Yeah, no kidding- considering this is a “peace” conference.
Update: Now it appears the peace conference has been canceled altogether:
The organizers of a peace conference scheduled to begin in South Africa on Friday have decided to postpone indefinitely the event after the Dalai Lama was barred from attending.
The conference committee announced Tuesday that it has decided to postpone the meeting indefinitely “as a result of the controversy surrounding the Dalai Lama.”
Organizers said they hoped to reschedule it before the World Cup — if the Dalai Lama is granted a visa.
I’m really not surprised by this in the least. In fact, I’m really glad that this happened. It just goes to show you that passive protests like this actually make a difference in the world. Unfortunately this isn’t going to change anything. If the Olympics taught us anything, it’s that the world is afraid of China. As long as China owns the world’s debt, they’re going to be calling the shots- which is why Iran will be safe.