People participating in a demonstration in Taipei to mark the 52nd anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese occupation of Tibet stage a skit during the demonstration on 12 March 2011. Fang Pin-chao/Taipei Times/Taiwan
Nearly 200 Tibetans and Taiwanese yesterday took to the streets in Taipei to voice their support for the independence and freedom of Tibet, while remembering those Tibetans who sacrificed their lives in an uprising against Chinese occupation of their country in 1959.
“Tibetans want to go home! The Dalai Lama wants to go home!” the crowd shouted as they marched. “Tibet belongs to Tibetans! Chinese Communist Party [CCP] get out of Tibet!”
Before the parade began, Tibetans performed a skit to show China’s repression of Tibetans.
As the crowd rallied near Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station, three Tibetans dressed in traditional outfits ran out of the crowd, shouting “Free Tibet” and “Independence for Tibet.”
Soon, four others dressed in Chinese military uniforms ran after them, took them down, covered their mouths, tied them up with chains and pointed pistols at their heads.
“The ‘skit’ that the Tibetans just performed is not really a ‘skit,’ because it’s something that has happened a lot during the past decades to Tibetans living within Tibet under Chinese occupation,” said Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labour Front, which was one of several civic groups taking part in the Free Tibet parade.
Speaking to the demonstrators, Taiwan Friends of Tibet (TFOT) president Chow Mei-li (周美里) said that Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s announcement earlier in the week that he would retire from exile government functions was a “slap at the CCP regime.”
“Traditionally, the Dalai Lama serves as both the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, and never retires,” Chow said. “But now, even the Dalai Lama has announced his retirement — we want to ask when is the CCP government going to retire?”
She added that the current Dalai Lama had pushed for democratic reforms in exile, leading to the elections of a legislative body and the government-in-exile through popular votes by Tibetans living in exile. In addition to the mostly adult demonstrators, there was also a high school student, Own Ching-ning (翁慶寧), who came from Taoyuan to join the parade.
“It’s just natural for us Taiwanese to join the Tibetans in their struggle for freedom, because we’re all facing the same threat — China,” Own said. “Although many people may think it’s the business of the grown-ups to support the free Tibet movement, I think people in high school are old enough to show care for the world.”
Jesse Duffield, a New Zealander who has been living in Taiwan for four years, said he has participated in many events related to the Tibetan cause, “because of my support for the Tibetans’ right to determine their own future as an independent nation.”
Besides showing their support for Tibet’s freedom, the demonstrators also observed a minute of silence and prayed for people in Japan who are suffering from the devastation brought by a massive earthquake and tsunami on Friday.