Nobel Laureate questions Tutu’s silence on Dalai Lama visa saga

Shirin Ebadi has expressed concern over Tutu’s apparent silence on the issue.

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama speaks during a press conference in Frankfurt/Main, western Germany on 14 May 2014. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - An Iranian Nobel Peace Laureate says she is concerned that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has not spoken out over the latest visa row involving the Dalai Lama.

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maintained normal procedure was followed with the Dalai Lama's visa application and said the application was withdrawn.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

Shirin Ebadi has expressed concern over Tutu's apparent silence on the matter this time round.

She has been quoted as saying South Africa has a history of fighting racial discrimination and that's why she won't accept the country's alleged refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has repeatedly emphasised he cancelled his trips in the past following delays in processing his visa applications.

Ebadi, along with several other fellow peace prize winners, has boycotted the summit as a result.

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 Tutu's 80th birthday in Cape Town in October 2011. The previous visa denial, in 2009, was also for a peace conference