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Anti-Apartheid Hero Desmond Tutu to Retire

  • VOA Tibetan

Desmond Tutu, a hero of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, says he will step back from public life later this year.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Anglican archbishop announced Thursday that his retirement will begin October 7 on his 79th birthday.

He said the time has come to "slow down" so he can spend more time with his family instead of at airports and conferences.

Tutu said he will continue his work with his peace foundation and with a council of statesmen known as "The Elders," but that he will resign from a university post and stop giving interviews to the media.

Tutu laughed as he told reporters, "Don't call me, I'll call you," referencing a similar comment made by his fellow anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela, on retiring.

Tutu, an Anglican minister, became known around the world for using his position in the church to condemn South Africa's repressive apartheid laws.

In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, and two years later he became the first black African ever to serve as Archbishop of Cape Town.

When apartheid was finally dismantled and Mr. Mandela elected president, Tutu was appointed head of the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to examine the human rights abuses perpetrated under apartheid.

He also had the opportunity to introduce Mr. Mandela as president for the first time, an honor he said was one of his life's greatest moments.

Tutu has advocated for human rights issues in Tibet on numerous occasions and have openly criticized Chinese Government's violations of universal right to freedom of religion and religious belief in Tibet. Tutu has garnered support for Tibet from Nobel Peace laureates, entertainers, statesmen, and ordinary citizens.

He is also a good friend of fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader. Recently on the Dalai Lama’s 75th birthday on June 6, Tutu asked China to allow Tibetans to celebrate their revered leader’s birthday.

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