Hundreds of Tibetans and Tibet supporters yesterday marched in Taipei to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China, as well as to remember more than 126 Tibetans who have self-immolated since 2009 over freedom and rights in Tibet.
The parade departed from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station shortly after a rendition of the Tibetan national anthem and a performance of a song about the uprising.
Demonstrators carried Tibetan flags and signs condemning Chinese repression of Tibetans and chanted “Free Tibet,” “Tibet belongs to Tibetans” and “China get out of Tibet” in Mandarin and in English.
“On the 55th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising, I would like to first pay my deepest respect to our Tibetan brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Tibet and to protest the illegal occupation of Tibet by China,” Tenzin Chompel, vice president of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Taiwan, told the crowd before the start of the parade.
“I would like to call on the Chinese government to positively respond to demands made by Tibetans with their lives — including allowing the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet, freeing Tibetan political prisoners, stopping population transfer into Tibet, ending so-called ‘patriotic education,’ and ending nuclear tests, mining and the construction of dams in Tibet — which may affect millions of people in Asia — and allow international media outlets and human rights groups into Tibet,” he said.
Yiong Cong-ziin (楊長鎮), a representative of Taiwan Friends of Tibet, said China would not become a great nation because of its size or the number of missiles it has.
“China can only become a great and respected nation by becoming civilized, and it can start to become a great nation by supporting Taiwanese and Tibetan independence,” Yiong said.
New York-based Tibetan activist Tenzin Dorjee said that while many people may think that the nation was defeated by Chinese troops 55 years ago, when the Dalai Lama and hundreds of thousands of Tibetans fled Tibet, he holds a different view.
“China has failed to wipe Tibet off the map or make people forget about Tibet, which it had hoped to do,” he said.
“Hence, China is being defeated every single day, when people voice their support for Tibet’s freedom,” he added.
As the parade passed through busy shopping areas in the city, many people stopped to watch and take pictures.
There were Chinese tourists among the onlookers and they reacted differently to the parade.
One of them asked his Taiwanese tour guide: “Why are they allowed on the streets?”
“Because Taiwan is a country where people enjoy freedom of expression,” the tour guide said.
The parade ended at Taipei 101 and was followed by a brief rally.