Taipei, March 7 (CNA) A group of human rights activists and Tibetans in Taiwan urged people on Wednesday to participate in an annual march for a Free Tibet on Saturday to mark the 59th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day.
Tibetan National Uprising Day is observed on March 10 to commemorate the Tibetan rebellion on that day in 1959 against Chinese rule.
The rebellion triggered a Chinese military crackdown in Tibet that forced the Dalai Lama and hundreds of thousands of Tibetans into exile.
Led by Tashi Tsering, head of the Taiwanese Tibetan Welfare Association, the activists chanted such slogans as “Tibet belongs to Tibetans,” “China out of Tibet,” “Free Tibet,” and “The Dalai Lama must return home,” to mark the day, a symbol of Tibetans’ determination to regain sovereignty for Tibet.
They also chanted slogans demanding the release of Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan language rights activist jailed for “inciting separatism,” and Gedhun Choekyi Nyimasix, detained by China since 1995 after the Dalai Lama declared him to be the reincarnated Panchen Lama.
“It’s been nearly 60 years since the uprising. We hope that his Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetans-in-exile can return to Tibet,” Tashi Tsering said.
Tashi Tsering, a second-generation Tibetan exile born in India, added that “returning to our homeland” is “not only the hope of Tibetan refugees.”
“Tibetans who now reside in Tibet also live in the hope of returning to our homeland. Is the Tibet without the Dalai Lama our homeland? Is the Tibet where the use of our language is banned and our culture oppressed our homeland?” Tashi Tsering said.
As in previous years, Tibetans-in-exile in Taiwan and supporters from local nongovernmental organizations will march through downtown Taipei on Saturday to show solidarity with Tibetans, as part of the annual global Tibetan freedom movement.
One of the demands to be highlighted in the march in Taipei calls for the release of Tashi Wangchuk and the Panchen Lama, said Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡), an executive member of the Taiwan-based Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan.
Tashi Wangchuk has been detained since January 2016 after he was featured in “A Tibetan’s Journey for Justice,” a documentary made by the New York Times, for advocating the rights of Tibetans to learn and study in the Tibetan language.
The 32-year-old Tashi Wangchuk stood trial on Jan. 4 for “inciting separatism,” a charge his lawyer said could bring a sentence of 15 years in prison.
“At Saturday’s rally, we will use the alphabet of the Tibetan language to form the slogan ‘Our language, our rights’ to voice our support for Tashi Wangchuk,” Lin said.
It’s enshrined in China’s Constitution that Tibetans have the right to use their own language, Lin said. “Tashi Wangchuk has not committed any crime by demanding the right be guaranteed.”
(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)