Civil society groups and a Constitutional Court judge have added their voices to growing support for Health Minister Barbara Hogan's stand on the Dalai Lama.
Hogan provoked the ire of the government on Tuesday by saying its denial of a visa to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader under Chinese pressure showed it was "dismissive of human rights". She urged the government to apologise.
Constitutional Court Judge Kate O'Regan yesterday publicly backed Hogan, SABC radio news reported.
"It is a matter of dismay that human rights does not seem to enter into the picture of some Foreign Affairs decisions that are made," she said.
The Helen Suzman Foundation said it supported the "principled stance" taken by Hogan.
"The notion of a minister having a different view from cabinet on a matter is not unprecedented nor is it unacceptable for that opinion to be voiced publicly," the foundation said. "Any censure or other steps that may be taken against Hogan will be deeply unfortunate."
Managing director of the Afrikanerbond Jan Bosman said the refusal of a visa to the Dalai Lama was an example of a government that puts its own narrow interests first with no regard to internationally acceptable norms.
"It must be welcomed that individuals such as Hogan spoke out against this decision. The deafening silence by the rest of cabinet must be seen as condoning this abuse of the most basic of human rights," Bosman said.
The Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum yesterday released a letter it sent to President Kgalema Motlanthe earlier in the week expressing its "serious concern" about the denial of the visa.
The Dalai Lama was due to addressed a peace conference today aimed at thrashing out ways of using football to fight racism and xenophobia. - Sapa