Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Religion & Politics ~ Dalai Lama & China

Johannesburg: Peace Conference postponed as Dalai Lama is refused a visa

CNN -- An international peace conference in Johannesburg has been postponed after South Africa refused the Dalai Lama a visa to attend the event.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Monday he would boycott the conference.

Announcing the postponement at a news conference Tuesday, Irvin Khosa, chairman of the South African football league, did not offer an explanation for the delay.

A presidential spokesman had said earlier that the Dalai Lama -- Tibet's spiritual leader and a Nobel Laureate -- did not receive a visa because it was not in South Africa's interest for him to attend.

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," said presidential spokesman Thabo Masebe, adding that South Africa has gained much from its trading relationship with China.

Khosa made the announcement at a news conference also attended by Chief Mandla Mandela, grandson of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mandla Mandela said it was a sad day for the country's democracy and the African continent that the South African government had denied the Dalai Lama a visa.

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