By Hermia Lin
Taipei, March 12: Shouting "Free Tibet" and "Tibetan people need freedom and human rights, " about 200 Tibetans and Taiwanese marched through the streets of downtown Taipei Saturday to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China's invasion.
Participants sang the national anthem of Tibet and performed a skit that depicted the 1959 uprising before starting to parade down Zhongxiao E. Road in Taipei City.
"What we can do for Tibetan people is very limited. Through the parade, we want Tibetans to know that we have not forgotten about them, " Chow Mei-li, president of Taiwan Friends of Tibet, which co-organized the annual event, told the crowd.
The Dalai Lama on Thursday announced in Dharamshala, India that he would step down as the political head of Tibet's exiled government but continue to push the Tibetan cause in his key role as its spiritual leader.
Chow said the announcement was a clear message that the Dalai Lama wanted Tibetans to be prepared for the time when he is no longer with them, and that every Tibetan should be aware that the future of their country is in their hands, rather than dependent on any one person.
"Sooner or later, Tibetans have to face the reality, whether or not they choose to continue with a moderate approach," she said.
Tibetans living outside their country may not be strongly affected by the Dalai Lama's announcement, but for those people still in Tibet, the move could be very disheartening, Chow said.
Sunday's march drew about 200 participants, according to Chow.
Jesse Duffield, a New Zealander who has lived in Taiwan for four years, said he joined the march because he believes Tibetans have the right to govern their own country and that China should leave Tibet.
Sixty-year-old Helen Lin said she took part in the march every year, because she is supportive of the universal values of democracy, freedom and human rights.
"An open debate on the future of a country is far better than authoritarian rule, " she said. (By Hermia Lin)