back to article Google breaks South African embargo on Dalai Lama

Google is once again playing politics, using Google+ to bypass the South African government’s refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to visit their allegedly free and democratic country. His Holiness wanted to visit to celebrate the 80th birthday of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The men are close friends, and both are recipients of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well done Google

    'nuff said.

  2. Captain DaFt


    Ghandi? I think you meant Tutu.

    1. Chris Miller

      Read the article again, cap'n. HH was to receive a prize from Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of the Great-Souled one.

  3. zonky
    Thumb Up

    Self-appointed Homophobic Dictator for life

    moans about not being allowed a platform to sprout his sky god fantasies on.

    Listen mate, when people talk to their imaginary friends, it's not a good look.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      sky god fantasies

      I agree that they are fantasists but that is completely missing the point. We have two friends (the reason for their friendship is completely irrelevant) who want to get together for a celebration. The S A government does not have the balls to stand up to the Chinese because there is a lot of Chinese investment going into S A.

      They do not understand that each time that they give in to a bully they make it harder to stand up to them the next time.

    2. peter_dtm

      Zummz doesn't normally spout his religion - just his racist homophobic policies

    3. cloudgazer
      Thumb Down

      While the Delai Lama isn't going to be starring in any Pride parades, he's not a homophobe, nor does he have a sky god (Buddhism doesn't have a creator god). I may not share his views about achieving enlightenment, or reincarnation, or oral sex, but that doesn't mean I think that he's a hateful man in the way that Pope Benedict is.

  4. Bumpy Cat

    Stupid lying spokestwat

    That's what I can't bear - the outright lie in front of the cameras. Would any other Nobel prizewinner have to fight the standard seffrican bureaucracy for a visa?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a simple policy, even Barack Obama has to play by the rules.

      -- Spokestwat

  5. frank ly

    Welcome to the modern world......

    ... where enabling an old man to talk to his old friend on his 80th birthday is a 'political act' that makes people twitchy and angry.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge


      And how does this differ from the pre-modern world? I am unable to find any historical record of this golden age when arranging meetings between prominent political figures was not a political act, or when politics didn't make people "twitchy and angry".

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Come on! Buddhism is fairly benign (unless you're an oppressive regime, in which case buddhists tend to put themselves on the line in opposition), and the Dalai Lama is deserving of some respect - more so than the Pope, I think. In which case the visa application should have taken a matter of minutes.

    -1 to the ANC ; +1 to Google.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Benign Buddhism

      You pain is due to the fact that you haven't let go of your attachment to the things of this realm.

      Wikipedia: The Buddha described nirvāna as the perfect peace of the state of mind that is free from craving, anger, and other afflicting states.

      Is that benign? I would say that if you are *not* angry at injustice and evil and death and if you don't want something better then you cannot really understand or exhibit compassion.

      When a grieving mother stands at the grave of her child and sobs "why?" what are you going to tell her? Your pain is your own fault for loving your child?

      What sort of people aspire to gaze at what goes on in the world and love nothing, hate nothing and feel nothing for what is happening? Is this really people aspiring to be unconscious or merely uncaring?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        ... as in 'harmless' and 'not malignant. As opposed to many other religions and political ideologies

        Agreed, though, that a buddhist probably doesn't have much to offer a grieving mother, but then nor does any other religion or philosophy - words just don't do anything. A hug and just being there are about all that are useful.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I'm not sure if that was a "10 seconds with wikipedia" troll comment or if you genuinely believe that your bring some intelligence and insight to the conversation.

        Either way, please stop posting while the adults are conversing.

      3. Hollerith 1

        Buddhism, the original philosophy, as I understand it

        The original idea of Buddhism, very simply, was to understand what makes the world a bad and sad place and try not to add to it.

        If you understand why people do evil things, by acceptign that they have human impulses, as you do, and are not simply an evil 'other', then you can think of how to address them to help them cease their evil. At the same time, you must look within yourself, see what you share with that other person, and strive to remove it from yourself (see the mote in his eye and your eye too).

        Or, as the Spider Woman deity of the First Nations people in the American SouthWest says: try to understand things. Stop hurting each other.

        Of course, Buddhism the philosophy, was found difficult and challenging and it was so much easier to turn it into a religion and then into an institution, with all the intervention and changing of oneself conveniently removed. One needs only a glance to see that's how all founding philosophies end up.

    2. LyingMan

      Buddhism might be benign but buddhists...?

      Well, Dalai Lama is from a oppressed buddhist sect but anyone heard or listened to them from Sri Lanka? The whole civil war erupted when the monks of the aforesaid sect decided that only Sinhalese could be the ruling party, only Sinhalese could be the national language (and no other will be recognised) and so on.. That fact is not anywhere officially recognised.. but go and talk to any civil servant / politician in Sri Lanka (not necessarily the oppressed side but the oppressing side as well)..

  7. Elmer Phud

    Has China now pwnd almost all of Africa?

    Just a query, not anti-Chinese. After all, we've had our turn screwing the place over for over a hundred years, now it's someone elses turn.

  8. David 45

    Free speech

    I'm an atheist but I would defend anybody's right to have an opinion, provided it doesn't directly impact on me or involve violence, illegal acts or terrorism. From what I have read, it sounds like the SA government have bowed to that oppressive regime, China. For goodness' sake, people, stand up for free speech rights, religious or otherwise!

  9. Jeff 11
    Thumb Down

    "The search firm stands pretty much alone in the technology community on standing up to the censorship-happy leaders of the Middle Kingdom."

    Oh dear. If Google hadn't failed miserably to set up shop in China, they'd still be part and parcel of the institutionalised censorship of that regime. It's great that Google+ is enabling two amazing figures in the world to communicate, but don't forget how willing Google was to co-operate with China when it could see the profit in doing so.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not impressed with Google

    I would have been more impressed if they didn't try to turn this into a public spectacle up front.

    The birthday aspect and the official issues behind the celebration is one thing. Despite their (inter)national roles we should not forget that this is /also/ a simple issue of two friends wanting to spend some time together. And that part is something the world doesn't need to monitor as well.

  11. Mondo the Magnificent


    Desmond Tutu is a well respected figurehead in S.A. although not a politician, he has a lot sway. Globally people look up to Des Tutu with admiration. He was an advocate of democracy and non violence. He played an immense part in the transformation of S.A. and although nowhere near as active as he used to be, he still enjoys significant media coverage locally and occasionally globally.

    I think the snubbing of the Dalia Lama's visit for Desmond Tutu's birthday celebrations shows the absolute arrogance of the ruling ANC party. They probably believe it's their "democratic right" not to grant the Dalia Lama a visa.

    China is slowly but surely influencing Africa with trade and also the fact that unlike Western governments, China will gladly overlook any form of cronyism, oppression or human rights violations that is often rife in 'most' of Africa.

    Well done to Desmond Tutu and Google for showing that technology can overcome the barriers of distance and oppression and allow freedom of speech as well as freedom of association flow freely.


    This is typical of the very left wing ruling ANC party led government in South Africa. The ANC don't quite see the communist revolution as a lost cause, they still stand under red stars and hammer & sickles at party meetings

    Although the ANC are bound by the Constitution that adopts democracy in every sense, the ruling party are gnawing away at it, bit by bit. A prime example is the Protection of Information Bill that they tried to pass just a few weeks back, which gives the government the say on and what cannot be reported. Fortunately the handful of true democrats within partliment managed to stall it. [for the time being]

    These are interesting times within the "Rainbow Nation" as the country leans more leftwards with the threat of farm land grabs and the nationalisation of mines. We all know just how much that benefited Zimbabwe!

    Fortunately people like Desmond Tutu, organisations like Google and the free press shine brightly through the red haze of Communist China's influence and help to keep the ruling party on their toes.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For once...

    ... good on ye, Google!

  13. nyelvmark

    We're sorry...

    Your current karma rating does not qualify you for reincarnation.

    Click here to learn how to boost your karma rating with Google Adwords.

  14. JaitcH

    China emulating USA and USA emulating China (Britain, too, a little)

    When people complain about China interfering in the internal affairs of South Africa they are doing no more and no less than either the USA or Britain do, only China's new to the game.

    We undoubtedly accept that South Africa is lieing through it's teeth, for I know a technician who is based in India who supports equipment used in SA and needed a visa the ttime. He was instructed to fly to Jo'burg and by the time he had arrived the visa was there, ready to be picked up at the airport. It's not as if the Dalai Lama is an unknown person, he has visited the USA and what country is more hypersensitive to risks, real or imagined?

    No one can beat the USA for meddling in 'internal affairs', or Britain on occasion, when you consider how many countries the USA has unitarily attacked/invaded since the cessation of the Korean war.

    Of course, Libya is the latest example - way, way outside the mandate specified by the UN and without doubt meddling in Libya's 'internal affairs'.

    As for paying visa games, prominent British enviro John Stewart travelled to the United States to take part in a month-long speaking tour organized by Aviation Justice Express, a US-based coalition of environmental and community-based groups. When Stewart landed at JFK last week, he says he was escorted off the plane by police and interviewed at length by FBI, Secret Service, and US Customs and Border Protection officials. Then he was denied entry and flown back to the UK. (See: < >)

    As for eavesdropping, no one, but no one does more it than the USA! Whether it's hot wiring the Greek cellco, putting satellite stations in foreign countries such as the one at RAF Menwith Hill, a clear signal that Britain is subservient to the USA (See: < >) or tapping all forms of communications of it's citizens.

    Of course there is one thing that differentiates China from the USA, China has gold reserves of between $2-3,000,000,000,000 whilst the USA has a national debt of $14,836,776,365,856.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      As I understand it, Menwith Hill is there for the US to monitor us, we have similar bases in America to monitor them. We then share the information, that way neither country spies on their own citizens/subjects.

      And regarding the John Stewart comment - he is known for civil disobedience, he has occupied runways at airports. You will, of course know this if you read the article. You don't get let into America if you have a criminal record.

  15. Yautja_Cetanu

    I'm confused... doesn't the final paragraph kind of make the whole point change completely? (I'm criticising the comments more then the article itself).

    I mean if its true that he only submitted his visa application on the 20th of sep and its not been rejected only being processed... then the only thinng you can criticise the government on is having a slow beaurocracy....

    Doesn't that last paragraph change the tone of the title from "Archbishop onces again fights for the liberty of his people" to "Idiot Archbiship makes a big deal about nothing... world sides with idiot"?

    Despite the tone... this post is actually a question, I'm simply confused... Are we assuming the spokesperson in the last paragraph was lying?

    1. handle

      A bit naive?

      Certainly there is a question over why the visa submission was made so late, but in the real world you can't expect such high-profile applications to be treated in the same way as your average punter's. It would have been fast-tracked if the government had wanted to avoid the resulting brouhaha.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The ANC

    It's sad to see what's happening with the ANC, one of the few organisations who could do anything about the situation in Zimbabwe, but they seem to have bought into the "Evil White Man" rhetoric. Then there is the "cures for AIDS" and HIV denial. There is also the slight matter that something like 25 years after the fall of Aparthide (I can't remember the exact amount of time off hand.) there seems to have been hardly any progress in the townships.

    Very sad.

    I have a lot of time for DT, he points out uncomfortable truths and doesn't back down.

  17. Daniel B.

    SA is turning into a facepalm

    This is the second time in this year that the SA Gov't acts pretty stupid in the int'l relationships dept. First was Libya, trying to push a Gaddafi-friendly "peace" proposal, second one would be this.

    The ANC is turning into a big FAIL!

  18. Lindsay 1

    Maybe he'll wander in as a Canadian citizen?

    Maybe he'll wander in as a Canadian citizen?

    For those of you who don't know - the Dalai Lama has Canadian citizenship. So did Nelson Mandela.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Hmm, the other day I was listening to a Canadian colleague and passport holder regaling me with the "police state with knobs on" reception he got trying to enter, er, Canada.

      He had commited the despicable offence of......not having been in Canada for a while. Apparently the nefarious act of not visting Canada regularly has the same effect on Canadian immigration as being of a swarthy complexion and having what looks like a couple of pounds of C4 and a load of curly wires in your luggage when X-rayed does to the US types.

      Thus if His Nibs the Lama has Canadian citizenship, it's probably best if he keeps it quiet.

  19. Robert Grant Silver badge

    SA visa process is rubbish

    Takes forever. They really are that inefficient. Spend any time in SA and you'll see all the shortcuts and lack of forethought in the public services. Power cuts are common; as part of the daily traffic report on the radio they list which traffic lights aren't working; traffic is ridiculous due to the lack of road planning; phone signal is often terrible. The list goes on.

    Having had a few different visas from South Africa I can well believe they are as inefficient as they make out. Funny that they admitted it.

  20. Alain Moran


    The way I understand karma & reincarnation is that if you dont have enough 'good' karma then you are reincarnated, however when you reach enlightenment (ie have enough good karma) then you are freed from the cycle of birth, death & recincarnation ;)

  21. cs94njw

    "In some countries a visa can take two months. I don't know why people are criticizing the government."

    Because you don't make the "leader" of a nation deal with the normal beurocracy that your own people deal with. You don't perform a security check on the spiritual leader of the Buddhists. You don't need to double-check the reason for entry, when two nobel peace prize winners want to have a chat.

    Welcome the guy in, heap all the positive PR, then do the paperwork afterwards goddamit.

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