The Permanent Secretariat
of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
Via Aurelia, 104
00165 Rome, Italy
30 September 2014
On behalf of the Tibetan National Congress (TNC), I write to urge that the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates be relocated from Cape Town to a city where “all” Nobel Peace Laureates can attend freely.
It has become clear that the South African government has no intention of issuing a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. That government has bowed to pressure from the People’s Republic of China. That government has ignored your organization’s September 15 letter signed by fourteen esteemed Nobel laureates. That government has also dismissed a month-long campaign by TNC, which has gained over 10,000 signatures including renowned Chinese dissidents Hu Jia and Wen Yunchao; Vietnamese dissident Professor Đoàn Viêt Hoat; writers Tsering Woeser and Paola Maugeri; political leaders from Italy, Finland, Iceland, France and Canada; prominent international lawyers Teng Biao, Alan Cantos and José Elías Esteve; numerous leading Bollywood actors; and famed musicians, journalists, among others.
Given the South African government’s morally reprehensible decision to bar His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates must now decide how it will proceed. We believe that the Nobel principles would be fatally undermined if the Summit acquiesces to this craven decision to bar His Holiness at the behest of the only government in the world imprisoning a Nobel Peace Laureate. Allowing the Summit to be tainted by this censorship would be indefensible, and would set a dangerous precedent that would extend far beyond this one case. We respectfully assert that the principles at stake are clear.
On September 24, TNC was contacted by Mr. David Steward, the executive director of the F.W. de Klerk Foundation, who asked us to reconsider our relocate or boycott the Summit campaign. He wrote that, “The reality is that your boycott (campaign) has placed international NPLs in a situation in which they have had to make a choice between expressing their solidarity with His Holiness or with our own NPLs”. As we made clear to Mr. Steward, however, TNC has also been calling for the Summit to be relocated to another country. There are more appropriate venues that would allow the Summit to avoid the irreparable taint of accepting censorship by the Chinese government. TNC believes that the relocation of the Summit, and its successful convening elsewhere, would be a victory for the Summit and Nobel Peace Laureates in demonstrating that Beijing and its allies cannot dictate the terms of a Nobel meeting.
In calling for the Summit to be relocated, we are fully aware of the logistical issues that likely arise. The obvious and logical solution will be to hold the Summit in Rome, where the Summit was first hosted and then seven times after; Rome is also where the Secretariat is based. There are numerous other cities that could host this important Summit where all invitees — including His Holiness the Dalai Lama — can attend. Whether the Summit takes place in Rome or any other city, the important thing is that the Summit takes place free of authoritarian coercion and censorship.
We look forward to a successful World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates to be held in a country that respects the principles of peace, freedom, and openness.