- Title: TAIWAN: Taiwan celebrates the Dalai Lama's birthday
- Date: 12th July 2009
- Summary: AUDIENCE WATCHING AUDIENCE NODDING WITH MUSIC (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RUBY LIANG, 26, STUDENT, SAYING: "They cannot voice their thoughts, and as soon as they speak it they will be suppressed. I think this is a big problem of the freedom of speech. I wish this event may bring awareness to this problem and Taiwan should cherish the rights to their freedom. We have the ability and rights to say what we want."
- Embargoed: 27th July 2009 13:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA5F94SYW5W9YOK792ZFB7D1JAW
- Story Text: Thousands in Taiwan join a Free Tibet concert to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday this week, and also mark the 50th anniversary of his exile.
Thousands gathered at the centre of a Taipei shopping district on Saturday (July 11) for a concert celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday and the 50th anniversary of his exile.
More than ten local bands performed on the stage in front of a back drop of the Tibetan flag, while audiences held up "Free Tibet" banners.
Organisers of the concert said it was an effort to show that young people in Taiwan think differently from the government, which since Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008, has warmed relations with China.
"This year is the 50th anniversary since the Chinese invasion into Tibet, and the Dalai Lama's birthday is in July. We choose this time to hold a Free Tibet Concert so that the world may hear Taiwan youths' independent voices, and how they do not follow President Ma Ying-jeou's bad example. We hope all the Taiwanese youths could support the voice against Chinese suppression," said Liao Weicheng, the director of Guts United Taiwan.
China has claimed self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists (KMT) fled to Taiwan. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.
Supporters at the concert voiced their support for TIbet and Xinjing, which share similar concerns with Taiwan.
"They cannot voice their thoughts, and as soon as they speak it they will be suppressed. I think this is a big problem of the freedom of speech. I wish this event may bring awareness to this problem and Taiwan should cherish the rights to their freedom. We have the ability and rights to say what we want," said 26-year-old Ruby Liang, a student.
"Whether it is the dignity of Tibet, East Turkestan, or Taiwan, we value in the same way. All the nations with an awareness about human rights should support this cause. Tibet and East Turkestan are ruled by a government that is intolerant of freedom of speech and with a colonial ideology. I think we should all oppose to that. We support the suppressed people to free themselves," said 56-year-old Michael Lin.
Along with Tibet, Xinjiang is one of the most politically sensitive regions in China. In both cases China says its rule has brought economic growth and prosperity.
The Xinjiang Autonomous Region Government say 184 people died after deadly ethnic clashes which began last Sunday (July 5).
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