Thu, Jan 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Group cycles Taipei for Tibet rights

LEARNING FROM OTHERS:Tashi said Tibet could serve as an example for Taiwan of what could happen should it accept unification through ‘one country, two systems’

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Cyclists draped in Tibetan snow lion flags in Taipei yesterday promote a March 10 commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Advocates flying Tibetan flags yesterday biked around Taipei to raise awareness for human rights issues in Tibet ahead of the annual Tibetan Uprising Day march.

Although the 1951 Seventeen-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet promised religious freedom and autonomy for Tibetans, neither has been realized under the People’s Republic of China government, Cycling for a Free Tibet founder Tashi Tsering told a news conference outside the Legislative Yuan.

“More than 160 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest, the Dalai Lama is still in exile and the 11th Panchen Lama remains missing after being abducted at age six and replaced with a fake,” the Indian-born Tibetan-Taiwanese said.

The agreement was a “one country, two systems” arrangement, Tashi said, adding that “we absolutely cannot accept the way the arrangement turned out.”

Tibet’s experience could be of value to Taiwan, as Beijing has threatened to annex the nation under a similar arrangement, he said.

“Taiwan must look at what happened in Tibet before negotiating with China. We would not trust them at all,” Tashi said.

To raise awareness for human rights issues in Tibet, civic groups have planned nine cycling trips in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung, as well as a march on March 10 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against China, Human Rights Network for Tibet director Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡) said.

Yesterday’s event was the first cycling trip.

The group, which consists of a dozen people from the network, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and other non-governmental organizations, set off from 228 Memorial Park at 9:30am.

After the news conference, they cycled to the Kelti Building, which houses Chinese representative offices, before heading to Taipei 101.

Worried that increased pressure from Beijing could discourage people from joining the annual march, civic groups have decided to promote the events earlier than usual this year, Lin said.

Last year’s referendums and local elections saw political forces that backed China’s authoritarianism and conservatism win public support by stressing the need to improve the economy, New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said.

“This has caused many to be concerned about Taiwan’s future, and the march is a great opportunity to show the world that Taiwanese still support freedom and democracy,” he said.

Beijing’s crackdowns on human rights are not limited to Tibet and have become more relentless in the past few years, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said.

In addition to requiring Tibetans to hang portraits of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in their homes, the Chinese government has also been closing and tearing down churches, she said.

“We should not think of things happening in Tibet as being far away from us, because the same things could happen here. The results of last year’s referendums suggest that Beijing’s influence is growing in Taiwan,” Yu said, urging people to support human rights by joining the events.

The dates and routes of the cycling trips can be found on the network’s Facebook page.

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