Response to ban on Dalai Lama

As we approach Passover, the celebration of the Israelites’ liberation from tyranny and oppression, we the South African Progressive Jewish Community, are appalled that the government of South Africa has refused to grant His Holiness the Dalai Lama entry into our country to attend the 2010 World Cup-organised peace conference in Johannesburg.

The government’s willingness to succumb to pressure and threats from the Chinese government is a rejection of what we are supposed to hold dear – the sanctity of human rights, democracy and freedom.

It is ironic that the news of the government’s submission to one of the world’s most oppressive nations broke two days after our celebration of Human Rights Day.

This refusal to allow the Dalai Lama to attend a conference on peace makes a mockery of our constitution and of the struggle against apartheid during which so many people suffered humiliation, imprisonment and death so that South Africa can be transformed into a country in which the dignity of all men and women is guaranteed.

We call on the South African government to rescind its decision not to allow the esteemed leader of the Tibetan People into our beautiful country and to stand up to the bullying tactics of the Chinese government. We should be guided by our desire to do what is ethically and morally right and not by intimidation and money.

Issued by: Rabbi Malcolm Matitiani, Chairman of the South African Association of Progressive Rabbis, and Mr Steve Lurie, Chairman of the South African Union of Progressive Judaism.