Mary Wald

/ forwarding the messages that build a better world

Huffington Post: South Africa Disses the Dalai Lama

“Spokesmen for President Kgalema Motlanthe had little explanation for the decision to refuse His Holiness the Dalai Lama a visa to attend the now-canceled peace conference in Johannesburg on Friday.

“The best they could come up with was that the conference was World Cup-related, and they didn’t want the World Cup to be about Tibet. But anyone who has ever watched a soccer match —— much less a World Cup match —- knows the chances of that.

“What doesn’t need to be said is that someone — most likely Motlanthe himself — got a visit or call from a Chinese official. And South Africa caved.

“Like the Olympics, the 2010 World Cup has the world’s attention. It’s a great time to make a statement. And as the Olympics were for China, it’s a chance for South Africans to showcase who they are, and how far they have come. In this case, it also became a chance for China to step in and force its anti-Dalai Lama message onto the stage.

“The problem is, unlike China, it happens to be impossible for South Africa to showcase anything without recognizing human rights. You can’t say Nelson Mandela without thinking freedom. You can’t say Desmond Tutu without thinking human rights. Not human rights of Africans. Human rights. The rights you have, no matter your country, color, or gender, just because you are human. They are in the very DNA of South Africa.”

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