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Parade marks Tibetan uprising

March 10, 2008

'FREE TIBET': The event, organized by the Taiwan-Tibet Exchange
Foundation and the Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association, began following
a simple memorial to the victims

The Taipei Times
Mar 10, 2008

"Free Tibet!" "Boycott the Beijing Olympics!": nearly 200 people --
Tibetans and Taiwanese alike -- shouted as they marched through
streets in Taipei City to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan uprising
against Chinese invasion.

"More than 100,000 [Tibetans] were killed during the 1959 uprising
against Chinese rule," Chou Mei-li, president of Taiwan Friends of
Tibet (TFOT), said as she explained the importance of the event before

the demonstrators departed from Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall yesterday afternoon.

"Each year on this date, Tibetans worldwide and their supporters walk
out of their homes to commemorate the day," she said. "We, the
Taiwanese, certainly won't be absent from it."

The parade, organized by TFOT, the Taiwan-Tibet Exchange Foundation
and the Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association, began right after a simple
memorial ceremony in which Tibetans in Taiwan sang the

Tibetan national anthem and Tibetan monks chanted Buddhist chants.

The marchers held up placards that read "stop Chinese colonization in
Tibet" and "free Tibet," as well as photos of some Tibetan political

"The youngest political prisoner in the world -- the Panchen Lama,"
the inscription above a picture of a child on a placard said.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, born in 1989, was named the 11th Panchen Lama --
the second-highest ranking monk in the Tibetan religion -- by the
Dalai Lama in 1995.

However, as soon as he was named the Panchen Lama, he disappeared and
the Chinese government appointed its own Panchen Lama.

The whereabouts of Gedhun are unknown to this day.

Another placard bore a picture of Rungyal Adrak, who openly advocated
the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet and demanded Gedhun's release last
August. As a result, he was arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison.

The procession ran into a Fuwa, the mascot of the Beijing Olympics,
when they were approaching Taipei 101 Tower.

At the entrance of an exhibition hall to promote the exhibition, the
exhibition organizer had someone dressed up as a Fuwa to promote the

As soon as the demonstrators spotted the Olympic mascot, some started
to yell "Fuwa, get out" and "boycott the Beijing Olympics."

No further exchange continued as the exhibition staff quickly pulled
the Fuwa inside.

Not all participants support boycotting the Olympics.

Erinn Low, a Canadian who is studying Mandarin in Taiwan, said that
athletes' rights to fulfill their life-long dreams to take part in the
Olympics should not be taken away, but added she supported the
demonstration because it would raise public awareness on the Tibetan issue.

Having participated in the event in India several times, it was the
first time that Dhundup Gyalpo, a Tibetan student at Tamkang
University, took part in the rally in Taiwan.

He was surprised at the turnout for the parade.

"Even though there are only few Tibetans here, the support is huge,"
Gyalpo said. "This just shows that the Tibetan issue is well alive."
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The groups also called on all Tibetans to peacefully protest the
Olympics and China's plans to have the ceremonial torch paraded
through Tibet.

Beijing maintains that Tibet is historically part of China, but many
Tibetans argue the Himalayan region was virtually independent for

Tibet's government-in-exile has not issued any official statement on the march.
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