from Africa in Transition

Dalai Lama Visa Issues for Desmond Tutu’s Eightieth?

September 15, 2011

Blog Post

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (R) greets South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Vancouver, British Columbia, April 18, 2004. (Lyle Stafford/Courtesy Reuters)

The Dalai Lama has applied for a South Africa visa to attend iconic anti-apartheid activist and preeminent religious leader archbishop Desmond Tutu’s eightieth birthday celebration on October 7. Denying him a visa, as the South African government did in 2009 to avoid offending China, would likely generate unwanted negative attention. It would be another incident among a series of controversial actions that have generated harmful domestic and international press, such as President Jacob Zuma’s contentious appointment of Mogoeng Mogoeng as Supreme Court chief justice and his government’s opposition to the Libyan transitional government as well as ANC youth league leader Julius Malema’s inflammatory comments on overthrowing the Botswana government, land redistribution, mine nationalization, and "economic war" on whites.

Already, public government comments have raised uncertainty about his visa and attracted media attention, prompting Archbishop Tutu to comment:

"I mean it’s so sad to think that we have had a kind of experience of repression that we have had, in that we should want to kowtow to a hugely repressive regime that can dictate to us about freedom and things of that kind."

Further, the Dalai Lama is not, at least publicly, seeking a meeting with representatives of the South Africa government. He is no longer head of the Tibetan government in exile, though, like Archbishop Tutu, he has enormous moral authority.

H/T to Asch Harwood.