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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I haven't been posting much lately, partly because setting up a business around three kids is more than a full-time job in itself, but also because I simply have't had anything to say.. but the e-mail in my in box from this morning about South Africa refusing to give the Dalai Lama a visa to enter the country  just made me mad and really sad.  How ludicrous that the SA govt refuses a Visa to the Dalai Lama to keep China happy.  China with its horrible, horrible human rights track record and its general lack of respect for life (human and animal).

My blood pressure just goes through the roof when I think that I live in a country (a country that I love) where the shops are flooded with cheap Chinese rubbish, made by what amounts to slave labour in China and then refuses to allow somebody like the Dalai Lama into the country.  It is really sad that people who fought for the human rights of their fellow people can feel so little for what the Chinese government is doing to its own people – all in the name of money.

To me the issue is not about whether the Dalai Lama is allowed into SA, but rather about the fact that South Africa bows to what the Chinese govt wants, whether it is because the ANC feels they 'owe China' because of arms received during the struggle or because of pure greed, SA is allowing China to dictate what should be done.  They are allowing the events in Zimbabwe to just carry on...
I now feel the need to go play with my kids outside or my whole day will be wrercked, all this and the taxi strike we narrowly missed in Gauteng yesterday is really not the kind of future I envision for my kids - raising them in a world where money is more important than human rights. :-(

e-mail I received from

Despite its denial this week, our government appears to have refused the Dalai Lama an entry visa because of fears it may affect the burgeoning trade relationship with China.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called this act a
‘total betrayal of our struggle's history’ and along with other Nobel laureates including FW de Klerk has announced he will boycott the World Cup peace conference, which the Dalai Lama was planning to attend before it was postponed today.

Generations of South Africans fought long and hard for cultural respect, political equality and democracy in this beloved country. They struggled hand in hand with friends around the world for freedom. We appeal to you to sign the petition to President Motlanthe reminding him that the New South Africa is a country built on solidarity and calling on him to safeguard our sovereignty from unwanted Chinese government intervention. If enough of us sign, our voices will be heard by the President to reverse his decision and allow the Dalai Lama into the country before the World Cup:

South Africans have a proud history that must not be bargained away. Global solidarity and international leadership were instrumental in the demise of Apartheid. While economic ties with China have grown, culminating in last year's undisclosed agreement between our two countries, this opportunity should not come at the expense of human rights or support for one of the world's leading lights of peace and non-violence.

The Dalai Lama has been campaigning non-violently for autonomy for the Asian nation of Tibet from China for more than 50 years. Denying him a visa will weaken the resolve of other nations to stand up for human rights. It will certainly not serve the interests of South Africans. Almost a century ago, Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off a train in South Africa because of apartheid abuse. We must appeal to our government not to mete out similar disrespect to one of the most revered international figures of our times.

A Chinese official has admitted that they asked South Africa not to grant the visa citing the danger it would do to their bilateral relationship; the South African government has in turn said “it would not be in the interests of South Africa” to allow the Dalai Lama in. Let's together let our President know that
abandoning an international human rights struggle for a trade relationship is a rejection of South African history, and unacceptable for the South Africa of today:

This recent visa decision comes on the back of the South African government blocking vital UN Security Council decisions which would have encouraged human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe and Burma. Now
China appears to have been successful in telling our government who should and should not enter South African territory. This sets a dangerous precedent and we must appeal to the President of South Africa not to bow down to bullying tactics.

As we commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Dalai Lama being forced to flee his home in Tibet,
let's together call upon the government to issue a visa to enter the land known internationally for its commitment to political freedom and human rights.

With hope,

Elinor Sisulu, Human Rights Activist
and the Avaaz team


South African trading relationship with

Nobel Laureates respond to South African decision

Some reasons why South African refused to grant the visa

China African relations

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