Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Tibetans to mourn for New Year

VIGILS AND RALLIES As part of a worldwide campaign, Tibetans living in Taiwan will forgo their usual festivities to mark Losar, beginning with a vigil tomorrow

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tibetans and Tibet activists will hold a series of events — including a candlelit vigil tomorrow and parades in Kaohsiung and Taipei next month — to remember Tibetans who died in uprisings in 1959 and last year.

“Following the uprisings in 1959 and 1989, the Tibetans rose up in large numbers against the Chinese last year — according to official numbers [from the Tibetan government-in-exile], 216 people died in the violent crackdown and 6,000 were jailed last year,” Taiwan Friends of Tibet chairwoman Chow Mei-li (周美里) told a press conference in Taipei yesterday, adding that the Chinese government maintains tight control on Tibetan civilians and monks.

Pictures of killed or injured Tibetan demonstrators in last year’s uprising were shown during the press conference.

While tomorrow is Losar — or Tibetan New Year — Tibetans around the world have decided not to celebrate and to remember those killed last year, Chow said.

Tibetans traditionally celebrate Losar with a feast, dancing and singing.

“Tibetans in Taiwan and Tibet activists will hold a candlelit vigil on Liberty Square in Taipei starting 7pm on Feb. 25 to pray that those victims may rest in peace,” Chow said.

She urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to attend the vigil.

“Last year when we held a sit-in in support of demonstrators in Tibet, Ma, as a presidential candidate, came to voice his support, and said that he might consider boycotting the Beijing Olympics if the situation did not improve after he was elected,” Chow said. “Nearly a year after your election, President Ma, I invite you to come join us on Liberty Square again on Feb. 25, to show that you sincerely care about the Tibetans.”

Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said that the office had not received a formal invitation and Ma would probably not be able to attend because he has a busy schedule.

There will also be a rally at Liberty Square, while a parade will be held in Kaohsiung on March 10 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tibetans’ 1959 uprising.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) is scheduled to declare March 10 “Tibet Day.”

A march to commemorate the 1959 uprising will be held in Taipei on March 14.

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