Dalai Lama comes to Rome after being denied South African visa
The Nobel Peace Laureates Summit, which was originally scheduled to take place in South Africa in mid-October, has been relocated to Rome on 12-14 December, according to a statement issued by organisers on 16 November.
The Cape Town event was suspended in September after the South African government failed to grant a visa to the Nobel laureate and spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama.
The summit was eventually called off after several Nobel laureates threatened to boycott the event, and will now take place in Rome from 12-14 December, at the invitation of the city's mayor Ignazio Marino.
The 2014 edition of the prestigious three-day summit, which is devoted to discussing the development of world peace, will be dedicated to the late South African president and human rights campaigner Nelson Mandela.
Under the title “Peace: Living it!”, the Rome event will welcome 22 peace laureates including Cape Town's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Northern Irish peace activists Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Northern Ireland Unionist politician David Trimble, and former Polish president and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa.
The opening ceremony takes place at the city's Auditorium Parco della Musica and will be inaugurated by Marino and Archbishop Tutu, while Cape Town will also be represented by its mayor Patricia De Lille. During the closing ceremony at the Campidoglio an award will be issued to a movie personality for an outstanding film in defence of human rights.
This is the 14th edition of the summit which was founded in Rome in 1999 and is chaired by former Soviet president and Nobel Peace laureate Mikhail Gorbachev along with former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni. This will be the summit's ninth time in Rome but it has also taken place in Warsaw (2013), Chicago (2012), Hiroshima (2010), Berlin (2009) and Paris (2008).
It is the third time in the last five years that the Dalai Lama has been refused a visa by South Africa, whose behaviour he likened to “bullying a simple person." It is believed that the visa was declined after South African bowed to pressure from China which views the Buddhist spiritual leader as a subversive.
China thanked South Africa for its "correct position" in refusing the visa.