Tue, Mar 10, 2015 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

Taiwan lacks spiritual leader

Taiwan and Tibet could hardly be more different, and yet exiled Chinese writer Yuan Hongbing (袁紅冰) has described the Taiwanese and the Tibetans collectively as heroes living in a historical epic.

The Tibetan protest movement has thwarted the Chinese communists’ policy of ethnic cleansing, creating an example for other minorities within China to follow in how to resist the regime.

Taiwan’s freedom and democracy, on the other hand, is demonstrating to the 1.5 billion Chinese how there are alternative options for how their country could be run. As a result, Taiwan and Tibet, in what they have come to represent, pose an existential threat to the regime in Beijing.

Today is Tibetan National Uprising Day — this year marking the 56th anniversary of the 1959 uprising against the Chinese invasion of Tibet. In Taipei, Kaohsiung and Hong Kong, there are to be night-time marches and vigils.

Some draw a parallel between the Tibetan uprising day and Taiwan’s own 228 Incident commemorations, as they are both days marking pain that will never be erased from the hearts and minds of the respective peoples.

Today we remember the countless Tibetans who lost their lives and the many temples that were destroyed, on that fateful day 56 years ago.

At the time of the events being remembered today, the Dalai Lama led his people over the mountains to exile in India. Having waited there for more than 50 long years, they still do not know whether they will ever see their homeland again.

Mass human exoduses throughout history have either happened when people have fled the carnage of war or have been trying to escape famine. The Tibetan exiles, however, left their homes behind to ensure that their religious beliefs were not destroyed by an invading power. It was for this reason that they embarked on their tragic exodus.

What can we do for the Tibetan people living here in Taiwan? There is much we have in common in terms of our spiritual lives. The Taiwan Association for Human Rights (台灣人權促進會) is calling for residency rights to be extended to them, and is supporting their cause by drawing attention to the issue of their human rights.

The Tibetans have been fortunate enough to have had a spiritual leader, showing them the way forward and guiding them through perilous waters, from the time they first embarked upon their journey into exile right up to the present day. He has reinforced the Tibetan people’s religion in exile, demonstrating that Tibetan Buddhism cannot be extinguished by a violent regime.

Taiwanese are not quite so lucky in this regard. Locked in a battle with China, with its continuous political, economic, cultural and social incursions, we find ourselves not only rudderless, but also left with a leader who prefers to fraternize with the enemy.

We have much to be thankful for, but in this regard, who is better off: Taiwanese, or the Tibetan people?

Chiu Yen-yu

Kaohsiung

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