Tutu's office urges S.Africa to give Dalai Lama visa

5th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Archbishop Desmond Tutu's office on Wednesday urged South Africa to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, after Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said the country was prepared to allow his visit.

The Dalai Lama on Tuesday cancelled plans to travel to South Africa this week to join in celebrations of Tutu's 80th birthday, saying he had not yet received a visa.

The delay in issuing the visa sparked an outcry, led by Tutu who branded President Jacob Zuma's administration as worse than the white-minority apartheid government for its foot-dragging.

But Motlanthe said in local newspapers that the government was about to issue the visa when the Dalai Lama cancelled the trip.

"To the extent that your comments in the Cape Times today suggest that you would have allowed His Holiness into the country, could you please announce unequivocally to the nation that a visa will be granted to His Holiness and he is free to travel to South Africa immediately," the centre's chairman Dumisa Ntsebeza said.

"We appeal to you to rectify the injustice and ensure that His Holiness is granted the visa tomorrow morning," he said in a letter to Motlanthe.

"We feel a grave injustice has been done in the manner in which this matter has been handled -- and tremendous disrespect has been shown to two of the world's greatest spiritual leaders of our times, the archbishop and the Dalai Lama," he said.

Tutu invited his longtime friend and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner the Dalai Lama to give an inaugural lecture at his Peace Centre on Saturday.

The Dalai Lama's spokesman in India, Tenzin Taklha said his office had begun the visa process in June, and that on Tuesday the South African embassy in India was not returning their calls.

"It became impossible. He felt it was too much of an inconvenience. His Holiness's policy is not to cause inconvenience to his hosts," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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