"Peace Conference in South Africa Is Canceled
JOHANNESBURG — Organizers of a peace conference that was to have been attended by five Nobel Peace Prize winners in Johannesburg said Tuesday that they had canceled the conference after the South African government denied entry to the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader and one of the Nobel laureates.
Two of South Africa’s Nobel winners, Desmond Tutu, the retired Anglican archbishop, and former President F. W. de Klerk, condemned the government for giving in to pressure from China to block the Dalai Lama’s entry and said they would refuse to participate in the conference this Friday if he was not there. The executive director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Geir Lundestad, also said he would stay away.
The government said Monday that the Dalai Lama would not be allowed to come to South Africa to attend the conference, meant to promote the 2010 World Cup, because his presence would have distracted attention from South Africa and drawn it instead to the contentious debate over the status of Tibet.
Thabo Masebe, a government spokesman, said that the Tibetan leader’s presence “would not be in South Africa’s best interests.”
A statement by the organizers on Tuesday said the participants had been told that “the only purpose of their visit to South Africa would be for the purposes of participation in the conference and not any other public engagements, as these could take away from the purpose for which the conference was intended.”