TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Hundreds of Tibetans in exile and their supporters on Sunday marched through the streets of Taipei in commemoration of an important anti-China uprising, and to protest for the freedom and human rights of the Tibetan people.
Sunday marked the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan rebellion, during which nationals of Tibet—occupied by the Chinese Communist Party nine years earlier—fought back against the People’s Liberation Army, who were intent on removing the spiritual leader Dalai Lama. The incident has been commemorated around the world each year since.
On the anniversary, a procession of human rights leaders and Tibetan freedom champions led a crowd of supporters from The National Taiwan Museum in Taipei’s 228 Peace Memorial Park to Nishi Hoganji Relics in Ximending (西門町). Protestors chanted the slogan “Freedom and human rights for Tibet” along the way while brandishing national flags and other symbols of liberation.
Activist carrying a sign that reads "Tibetans want to return home" (Taiwan News image)
Prior to departing, leader of the exiled Tibetan government in Taiwan Dawa Tsering gave an address in which he called for, “freedom-loving people of the world to commit to end oppression in Tibet and commit to fight against impunity.” Speeches were also given by 1989 Tian’anmen protest leader Wu’erkaixi, New Power Party founding leader Freddy Lim (林昶佐) and Tash Tsering, co-founder of Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan.
Dawa Tsering (center), Tashi Tsering (left) (Taiwan News image)
Tashi Tsering explained many second-generation Tibetans born outside of the country have only heard stories of their hometown through the mouths of others. No matter the state of their country, all Tibetans wish to return home, he said, expressing hope that everyone can continue their support for the human rights of the Tibetan people and the protection of their culture.
Tibet was forcibly annexed by the People’s Republic in China in 1950 after officials were made to sign a “Seventeen Point Agreement” that handed Tibet’s sovereignty over to China in exchange for “protection” and regional autonomy. Conflict continued along the border due to rebels who never heeded Lhasa’s requests for ceasefire.
Tensions broke on March 10 1959 following rumors the PLA sought to remove the Dalai Lama—protest emerged in Lhasa, and violence broke out. Estimates suggest around 90,000 Tibetan civilians were killed by Chinese forces within the following month.
The 14th Dalai Lama currently resides in India, where rallies were held throughout the country on Sunday to celebrate his life and call for the liberation of Tibet.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council called on Beijing last week to revise its policies towards Tibet in order to safeguard the human rights of its people and guarantee them freedom of religious belief.
Activist groups responsible for the organization of Sunday's event have established a petition calling on the Taiwanese government to issue a formal invitation to the Dalai Lama. The petition can be found here.
Marchers carrying Tibetan national flags (Taiwan News image)