In an incredible act, the South African government has barred the Dalai Lama from an International Peace Conference — knuckling under to pressure from China. The very people that once fought efforts to silence Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are now silencing a Noble Prize winner and international voice of peace because they do not want to insult China.
Thabo Masebe, spokesman for President Kgalema Motlanthe, said that it was inconvenient to allow the Dalai Lama to be heard at the conference, which would be “the source of negative publicity about China.” As if it needed to be added, Masebe stressed “We do value our relationship with China.” China is one of South Africa’s biggest trade partners.
Fellow Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and members of the Nobel Committee canceled plans to participate in Friday’s conference in protest.
The shameful act will leave an indelible stain on South Africa’s reputation and tarnish its own history in fighting repression. I cannot imagine that any reputable academic or NGO would go participate in such a conference.
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