Feeds

Google breaks South African embargo on Dalai Lama

Desmond Tutu will get his birthday hangout

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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 the Nobel Prize of Peace – Tutu in 1984 for his work against apartheid (a cause the Dalai Lama rigorously supported) and His Holiness in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square massacre. He was due to receive an additional peace prize from Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of the Indian spiritual leader, during the visit.

His Holiness – or Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso as he is almost never known – was to attend an eight-day celebration of Tutu’s birthday, but the South African government repeatedly questioned his visa application and said it may not be issued in time.

The trip had to be called off, and a visibly furious Archbishop castigated his government for barring the Tibetan leader.

“Our government is worse than the apartheid government because at least you would expect it with the apartheid government," Tutu told a press conference in Cape Town, the Guardian reports.

“Our government – representing me! – says it will not support Tibetans being viciously oppressed by China. You, president Zuma and your government, do not represent me. I am warning you, as I warned the [pro-apartheid] nationalists, one day we will pray for the defeat of the ANC government."

This is the second time the Dalai Lama has been refused entry into what Tutu once called the Rainbow Nation. In 2009 His Holiness was refused entry on the pretext that a visit would distract from the football World Cup, and in both cases pressure from the Chinese government was suspected.

"Everybody thinks this is because of pressure from China,” said Gandhi. “It's very sad another country is allowed to dictate terms to our government. It's going back to apartheid times. I am ashamed of my own country."

In the past, the Chinese authorities have slapped a ban on YouTube videos featuring His Holiness, and have been implicated in a hacking attack on his web servers. Authorities have even legislated against reincarnation – the traditional method of picking the head of the Dalai Lama's Yellow Hat branch of Buddhism – in a step those authorities described as "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

To the rescue comes Google, which will now host a "Google+ hangout" between the two old friends in a broadcast session on Saturday, October 8, at 10:30am in Cape Town (1:30am Pacific Time and 9:30am in London). Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social business, promises an exciting session between the two, during which the issue of Chinese interference seems likely to be discussed.

“Their humility and unswerving commitment to freedom have inspired generations and we're incredibly proud that Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have chosen Google to connect on Archbishop Tutu's birthday,” the company said in a statement.

The move is bound to put more pressure on the already strained relationship between Google and China. The search firm stands pretty much alone in the technology community on standing up to the censorship-happy leaders of the Middle Kingdom. Apple, for example, kowtowed to the authorities and removed the Dalai Lama’s works from its store, and Microsoft, Yahoo!, Cisco, and others have been accused of helping the Chinese identify dissenters, both domestic and foreign.

The South African government maintains that the issue has nothing to do with China, and merely blames the poor performance of its government paperpushers.

"He's cancelled his trip and that's it. We have not said no,” said government spokesman Clayson Monyela. “We've not refused him a visa; the visa was still being processed. It's only on 20 September that he submitted his full paperwork. In some countries a visa can take two months. I don't know why people are criticizing the government." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.