I’m not one to fall into hyperbole about epic struggles between worldwide forces of good and evil, as I believe the real struggle (at least for me) lies deep within. But sometimes I have to wonder. Why on earth is China, one of the most powerful nations on the planet, so afraid of a small, simple man? And how is it that they weild so much power as to bring out to worst in a nation like South Africa, which struggles every day to deal with the demons of its own, not-to-recent past?
Growing opposition to [South African] government’s Dalai Lama ban
Published in: Legalbrief Today
Date: Fri 27 March 2009
Anger over the government’s decision to bar the Dalai Lama from visiting SA gathered momentum yesterday with Constitutional Court Judge Kate O’Regan, the Human Rights Commission and the General Council of the Bar (GCB), among others, throwing their weight behind Health Minister Barbara Hogan, who spoke out against the decision earlier in the week.
Hogan provoked the ire of the government – which then publicly slapped her down – when she said its denial of a visa to the Tibetan leader under Chinese pressure showed it was ‘dismissive of human rights’, and she urged it to apologise. O’Regan is quoted in a report in The Times as saying: ‘I also want to say that, like you, who remembers the years of the 1980s when SA was so fortunate to have friends all over the world assisting our human rights struggle, that it is a matter of dismay that human rights does not seem to enter into the picture of some foreign affairs decisions that are made.’ And according to Beeld, HRC Chair Jody Kollapen has written a letter to President Kgalema Motlanthe to ask for an explanation. It says he wants an explanation by the government on how these cases will be handled in the future.
The Bar Council took a firm position, saying it considers the refusal to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama to be in violation of the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion contained in both sections 15 and 16 of our Bill of Rights ‘where there is no constitutionally justifiable basis for the refusal’. In a statement released yesterday it said: ‘We are gravely concerned about the precedent this sets and the apparent arbitrary grant and refusal of visas which finds the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner being precluded from attending a conference dedicated to disseminating the self-same values for which he was awarded the Peace Prize, namely his opposition to the use of violence and his philosophy of peace. It is unfortunate that we are found comparing the refusal now to issue a visa to a Nobel laureate with the refusal to grant Albert Luthuli a passport to receive his Nobel Peace prize.’