Democratic Progressive Party's presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen at an election rally last month.(Photo/AP)
DHARAMSHALA, February 24: A former presidential candidate and leader of Taiwan’s largest opposition party, has expressed concerns over the situation in Tibet and called on President Ma Ying-jeou to voice his concerns to Beijing.
Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen said she was “heartbroken” with the increasing reports of self-immolation protests by Tibetans in her meeting with Dawa Tsering, director of the Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Wednesday.
23 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet. Many parts of Tibet continue to remain under an undeclared martial law following the recent killings of unarmed Tibetan protesters.
According to the Taipei Times, Tsai reiterated the DPP’s support for Tibet’s democratic movement and the well-being of Tibetans in Taiwan.
In last month’s general elections, DPP lost to the incumbent Kuomingtang (Chinese Nationalist Party), leveraging President Ma’s message of greater prosperity through expanded ties with China.
A letter from the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, expressing his “recognition and praise” for Tsai’s efforts in Taiwan’s democratic development and in the presidential elections was handed over by Tsering during the meeting.
According to reports, the Dalai Lama informed Tsai about his decision to withdraw from the political decision-making process of the exile Tibetan administration last year in the letter.
The 76 year-old Tibetan leader visited Taiwan most recently in 2009, following the devastation caused by Typhoon Morakot, which left at least 650 dead.
During his short stay, the Dalai Lama led prayer services and toured some of the worst hit areas in southern Taiwan. China had quickly denounced the Dalai Lama’s humanitarian visit saying it was "resolutely opposed" to Taiwan receiving the exiled Tibetan leader.
After the meeting, DPP released a three-point statement on the latest developments in Tibet.
The DPP called on the Ma administration to condemn China’s crackdown on Tibetan activists and actively pay attention to the human rights problems in Tibet, as well as the development of the democratic movement in China.
While hailing human rights and democracy as DPP’s core values, the party stated that those values should be included in Taipei’s engagement with Beijing.
The party also expressed gratitude for the Dalai Lama’s interest in Taiwan’s democracy.