DA launches online petition for Dalai Lama

There has been no word from President Jacob Zuma on the matter.

FILE: The Dalai Lama speaks during a press conference in Frankfurt/Main, western Germany on 14 May 2014. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has launched an online petition appealing to the South African government to provide the Dalai Lama with a visa to enter the country.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India and is at loggerheads with China over Tibet, had been hoping to join a Nobel peace conference in Cape Town next month but withdrew his visa application after being told it would be unsuccessful.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation maintained normal procedure was followed with the Dalai Lama's visa application and said the application was withdrawn.

China subsequently thanked South Africa for taking the "correct position" on the alleged visa refusal

The DA's Stevens Mokgalapa said, "It's important for President Jacob Zuma to reconsider his decision to grant the Dalai Lama a visa."

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town said it's still awaiting a response from the presidency on the latest debacle surrounding the Dalai Lama.

The FW de Klerk Foundation yesterday confirmed that 14 Nobel peace laureates have written to Zuma urging him to issue the Dalai Lama with a visa to visit South Africa.

Cape Town Mayoral spokesperson Zara Nicholson said there has been no word from the president on the matter.

Previous delays in dealing with the Dalai Lama's visa requests by the African National Congress government have angered South Africans who see it as a betrayal of the country's commitment to human rights since apartheid ended 20 years ago.

China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet, a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking more autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

A South African court ruled two years ago that officials had "unreasonably delayed" a decision on granting the Dalai Lama a visa in 2011, largely out of fear of angering China, now a major African and South African trading partner and investor.

Because of the delay, the Dalai Lama was unable to attend the 80th birthday of his friend and fellow Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Tutu in Cape Town in October 2011. The previous visa denial, in 2009, was also for a peace conference