Surrounded by dozens of friends, Tibetan activists and curious onlookers, the Dalai Lama’s nephew Jigme Norbu launched his 400km-plus walk from Taipei to Kaohsiung at Longshan Temple yesterday morning.
Having walked more than 11,000km, mostly in North America, to raise public awareness on Tibet and advocate independence for it, Norbu will take 13 days to walk from Taipei to Kaohsiung, meeting with supporters and Tibetans living in exile in Taiwan, as well as giving lectures on the Tibet issue at various universities and high schools across the nation.
“We chose today to begin the ‘Walk for Tibet’ in Taiwan, because today is a day with very important significance,” Norbu told the crowd at the square in front of the temple.
“Today is Human Rights Day; it’s also the anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama winning the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said. “We’re also here to honor Nobel Prize-winner Liu Xiaobo [劉曉波], who is still in jail. We want to also celebrate the recent release of Burmese democracy fighter Aung San Suu Kyi.”
The Dalai Lama was awarded the peace prize in 1989, while Aung San Suu Kyi was released by the military junta in Myanmar last month.
Amid the crowd was former Democratic Progressive Party secretary-general Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), a long-time supporter of the Tibetan movement since he attended graduate school in the US in the 1980s and helped accommodate Norbu’s father, Thupten Jigme Norbu, when he visited Taiwan in 1998.
“During our long struggle for democracy, we received help from all over the world,” Lee told the crowd. “So when we enjoy our freedoms today, we should not forget less fortunate nations and peoples; we’re obliged to give them a hand.”
Turning to Norbu, Lee said Tibetans may have a long way to go in the pursuit of freedom and independence, but that they were not alone.
“Taiwan will always support you,” Lee said.
Norbu and his group reached Yingge Township (鶯歌), Taipei County, in the evening, where they met the local Tibetan community. They depart from Yingge Railway Station this morning and are to walk to Pusin Railway Station in Yangmei City (楊梅), Taoyuan County, where Norbu will give a lecture at National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu City in the evening.