Top image caption: Whenever His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his good friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu meet, it is never in South Africa and at this rate, it looks like it never will be.

In an embarrassing turn of events for the Tibetan leadership, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been denied a visa to South Africa for the third time in five years. His Holiness was due to attend a summit of Nobel Peace prize winners to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid. After news of His Holiness’ visa denial made the headlines, six fellow Laureates pulled out of the summit in protest and as a result, the summit that His Holiness had been invited to attend has been scrapped.

The last 60 years since the Tibetan leadership first went into exile has seen very little improvement in the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) reputation or worth. While the six decades has seen a rise in value of a relationship with the Chinese, it has also seen the value of being associated with the Tibetan leadership plummet. This current state can only be attributed to the CTA’s poor leadership, internal bickering and politicking, all of which have shown the world what the Tibetan leadership are really like.

For once the rose-tinted glasses are removed and the romantic daze of meeting His Holiness has worn off, people see the CTA for what they truly are – corrupt, self-serving, desirous and greedy, basically just like any other normal politician and human being. So while His Holiness may indeed be holy and enlightened, those who surround him most definitely are not and this is proven by their track record of accomplishments (or rather, lack thereof).

The CTA claims that they are a democratic nation governed by Buddhist principles, yet their achievements do not mirror the results that we have come to expect from this style of governance. Bhutan, for example, is a neighboring example that many Tibetans will be familiar with. A Buddhist democratic nation that has its independence, Bhutan has developed an extremely positive international reputation for their environmental conservation efforts. Thailand is another independent Buddhist nation, with a strong culture and identity that draws tourists from all over the world, and they have the reputation of never having been colonized. Even nations like Vietnam and Cambodia, both having suffered incredibly devastating civil wars, are seeing their fortunes rise and their people’s standard of living improve as the years go by.

While these Buddhist nations go from strength to strength, the Tibetan leadership in contrast continues to remain as beggars, seeking handouts from foreign donors who have not yet awoken to the fact they are being lied to and cheated. Despite the millions of dollars in donations that governments and private donors have pumped into the CTA’s coffers, the Tibetan leadership have not been able to reopen talks with China regarding the Tibetan issue, let alone secure any sort of progress towards their goal of meaningful autonomy (umaylam).

What is interesting is that this is not the first time that South Africa has denied a visa to the Dalai Lama. They first denied him entry into their country in 2009, when he had been invited to a peace conference in Johannesburg. It was organized to highlight the World Cup in South Africa but when the Dalai Lama’s visa was denied, the conference was cancelled. Two years later, in 2011, His Holiness was invited to South Africa to attend his good friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday. On the eve of his departure, his visit was abruptly cancelled and once again, he was unable to attend the event because his visa application was rejected.

With such a track record, it seems unlikely that the Dalai Lama will ever be welcomed in South Africa. South Africa thus joins a growing list of countries increasingly unwilling to be associated with the Tibetan leadership.


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  1. Carole McQuirre

    July 29, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    South Africa has a long history about apartheid. They should sympathize with the Tibetans in exile and allow Tibetans like the Dalai Lama to enter their country to represent democracy. The very fact they rejected Dalai Lama shows you that to be friends with the Dalai Lama earns no benefits for the country and it’s better to make friends with China. Whether people like it or not that is the truth.

    The Tibetan leadership’s days are numbered. Their corruption, diabolical methods to lying, religious repression of their own people, their nepotism are catching up. They may hide their corruption from the west, but not from karma.

    Less and less nations are supporting Tibetans and all believe the one China policy which is Tibet is a part of China. Tibetan leadership better make friends with China because China controls Tibet and not the west. Tibetan leadership making friends with the west is for only monetary gains because they want a free hand-out to sustain their good lifestyles. South Africa will not and cannot let Dalai Lama into their country because they do not believe in CTA and the Tibetan leadership. Time is short for them.


    July 29, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    We in South Africa do not support the Dalai Lama. He should be friends with China and stop antagonizing China. His country’s fate lays in the Chinese government’s hands. If he was intelligent and shrewd, he will minimize his contact with western governments and media and make his friendship with China. The suffering and self immolations of Tibetans lays within the responsibility of the Dalai Lama and he has better do something soon.

    We in South Africa wish economic growth and the Dalai Lama has no benefit for us to come to our country. We wish to be friends with China for mutual economic benefits. I support our government’s decision to ban Dalai Lama and his anti-China rhetoric from my country.

  3. Tenzin Peljor

    July 30, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Tibetans should stay out of South Africa. South Africa has enough of it’s own problems to solve and Tibet will never help Africa.

  4. Pattie S.

    July 31, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    The Dalai Lama should not travel to countries that he knows will damage that country’s relations with China. China is a chief economic power and many countries would benefit from a relationship with China. If Dalai Lama knowingly travels those country at the expense of their economic benefit with China, that would not be very shrewd as it will backfire. Eventually that country will have repercussions with China and ban the Dalai Lama anyways. Dalai Lama should consider carefully where he travels in order to not damage the country’s economic relationship with powerhouse China.

    Dalai Lama should do his best to extend the olive branch to China and become friends. Dalai Lama should not antagonize China in any way for the sake of his people.

  5. Ida Russo

    August 3, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Tibetans always make trouble wherever they live. They will not live quietly and appreciate the bigger economic goals of their host country. Many countries have a economic need to be friends with China as the cold war with China is thawing out. But Tibetans will never understand this. The needs of the 6 million Tibetans to them outweigh the needs of the rest of the 7 billion persons on this planet.

    South Africa would make a smart economic move if they become good friends with China. China has the capacity to be a great economic partner for your country.

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