As the one-year countdown to the Beijing Olympics began yesterday, Tibetans living in Taiwan and their supporters announced the launch of coordinated international action for Tibet.
"Tibetans in Tibet have no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech and no basic human rights," Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association chairman Rinzin Tsering told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.
Tibet has been under Chinese occupation since China invaded in 1950.
Tibetan uprisings against the occupation were brutally oppressed by the Chinese military and several religious leaders who refused to recognize Chinese rule were either imprisoned without fair judicial process or have gone missing, Rinzin Tsering said.
The Chinese government has also sought to tighten its control over Tibet by interfering in religious affairs, he said.
"Beijing has said that reincarnations of high lamas -- such as the Panchen Lama -- have to be recognized by the government in Beijing," said Khedroob Thondup, a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile.
Tibetans believe that high lamas -- or Tibetan Buddhist monks -- reincarnate after their death.
Traditionally, reincarnations of high lamas were confirmed, through a complicated process, by the Dalai Lama or other high-ranking lamas.
"No Tibetan will recognize a high lama announced by Beijing," Khedroob Thondup said.
"A country that doesn't care about human rights should not host the Olympic Games," Taiwan Friends of Tibet president Chou Mei-li (周美里) said.
"It's a shameful decision to allow China to host the Olympics," Taiwan Labor Front chairman Sun Yu-lien (
Tibetan organizations worldwide will concentrate efforts into calling for improvements in human rights in China, the group said.
Rinzin Tsering said: "We the Tibetan community in Taiwan will submit appeal petition[s] to all the international institution[s] and the government of Taiwan to support the Tibetan people's struggle for freedom and human right[s]."
A boycott of the sponsors of the Beijing Olympics is another measure the group intends to take.
"We hope [the sponsors] will withdraw their support," said Democratic Progressive Party Department of Ethnic Affairs Director Yang Chang-chen (
"We know there's one Taiwanese corporation sponsoring the Beijing Olympics. We will refrain from naming it at the moment," Yang said. "But should it become necessary, we'll call for a boycott."
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