Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday criticised South Africa for stalling on awarding a visa to the Dalai Lama and for lacking “enthusiasm” in fighting for democracy elsewhere.
“Sometimes we get the feeling perhaps that South Africa, or rather I must be frank and say perhaps South African authorities, do not support the struggle for democracy and human rights as enthusiastically as, for example, individuals like archbishop Desmond Tutu,” Suu Kyi said in a video link interview at the University of Johannesburg.
South Africa has dithered on deciding whether to allow the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the country for anti-apartheid luminary Tutu’s 80th birthday this week.
The Dalai Lama has paid three visits to South Africa, but in 2009 he was denied a visa, with the government saying it did not want to alienate its biggest trade partner China.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) looked on South Africans “as soulmates, our brothers and sisters who went through the same kind of struggles that we are going through now.”
“But it would be so good if those who have successfully overcome their problems were to remember those who are still struggling to overcome theirs,” she added.
The university will award Suu Kyi an honorary doctorate in absentia on Tuesday for her pro-democracy fight.
Her NLD party won a 1990 election but was never allowed to take power by the then-ruling military junta.
She was released from seven straight years of house arrest last November, shortly after a widely criticised election won by a general who traded his uniform for civilian garb.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela was a staunch supporter of Suu Kyi, but his country’s support for her movement has cooled since his presidency.
In 2007 South Africa, while a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, voted against a US-led resolution urging democratic reform in Myanmar, saying the measure went beyond the council’s mandate.