South African minister criticizes government for Dalai Lama snub
Health Minister Barbara Hogan called on the South African government to apologize for refusing the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a peace conference, local news reported, according to dpa.
"Just the very fact that this government has refused entry to the Dalai Lama is an example of a government that is dismissive of human rights," SAPA news agency quoted Hogan as saying.
"I believe [the government] needs to apologize to the citizens of this country, because it is in your name that this great man who has struggled for the rights of his country has been denied access."
On Tuesday, the controversy surrounding the attendance of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, at the SA Peace Conference prompted organizers to postpone the Friday event.
The Dalai Lama was expected to address the conference, designed to discuss ways of using football to fight racism and xenophobia ahead of the 2010 Football World Cup.
But the government refused to grant him a visa, saying his involvement would draw the world's attention from the World Cup preparations, drawing criticism that it had given it to pressure from China.
The goverment was set to stick to its position also for the duration of the tournament, South African radio reported Wednesday.