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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama issue has readers puzzled, angry

March 25, 2009

Yolandie Breytenbach, Herald Reporters
The Herald (South Africa)
March 24, 2009

NELSON Mandela Bay and Southern Cape residents are puzzled that the
government cannot issue Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a
visa to attend a Peace Conference in Johannesburg next month.

The Dalai Lama was to have attended the pre-2010 Fifa World Cup
anti-xenophobia event on special invitation from his three fellow
South African Nobel Peace Prize laureates, former president Nelson
Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and former president FW de Klerk.

In a snap poll by The Herald yesterday, Teresa Connor, of Walmer,
said she was not sure why the Dalai Lama was being denied access to
the country.

"The man has been in South Africa many times before. I am puzzled by
the decision."

Nomsa Mncora, of Summerstrand, said the move could provoke another
series of xenophobic attacks.

"The 2010 Soccer World Cup is around the corner and we are expecting
many visitors. His presence at the Peace Conference might help people
of all races to unite. Not allowing him to attend would send a
message that South Africa is still a racist country."

Nolwazi Titi, of South End, said: "I think there is more to this
story than what the government is telling us. Right now I?m confused
by this whole issue."

Mercia Peters, of Korsten, said: "South Africa is unfair. If the man
is going to contribute in bringing peace to the country, I do not see
why he should be denied access."

Keith Swart, of Lovemore Heights, also felt the decision taken by
South Africa was unfair. "Something surely doesn?t sound right."

Andrew Mohate, of Motherwell, said: "This will lead people to boycott
the Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup. Those two events are
important to us and we cannot afford to mess up now. What the
government is doing is unfair."

Raymond Dickens, of Walmer, said the government did not know what it was doing.

"It's only a peace conference. I do not understand why our government
is so uptight about it."

A presidential spokesman said the Dalai Lama had not been invited
because the government did not want to move world attention from
World Cup preparations.

The issues to be discussed at the Peace Conference will include ways
of using football to fight racism and xenophobia before the World Cup.

Kim Lee, of Knysna, said: "It is very wrong. I'm disgusted and
embarrassed, because anything to do with peace, especially when it
comes to the Dalai Lama, should be encouraged.

"I heard on the radio this morning the reason was that China
discouraged it because we are on China's payroll. So we apparently
now listen to whatever China tells us to do."

Yolandie Breytenbach, visiting Plettenberg Bay, said: "It appears it
was completely intentional.

"It's ironic that we'd choose to keep the Dalai Lama out of the
country so he can?t attend a peace conference. It's a joke."

Sivu Nobongoza, visiting Plettenberg Bay, said: "I think the South
African government is proving to have really dodgy ethics.

"Clearly there are issues with China and Tibet, so because of our
commercial and economic dealings with China we would rather choose to
snub a holy man in order for us to maintain the stream of wealth
coming in from China than to actually be righteous.

"We seem to love being on the fence with issues.

"If apartheid has taught us anything, we should fight for what we believe in."
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