Protesters claiming to be Tibetans in Taiwan hunger strike

Thu, Dec 17, 2009

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - About 30 immigrants claiming to be ethnic Tibetans started a 50-hour hunger strike in Taiwan Thursday in a bid to obtain resident status on the island, officials and protesters said.

Taiwan is obliged by law to let them stay if they are indeed Tibetans, but officials told AFP they did not believe their claims about their ethnic origins to be true.

The hunger strikers set up camp in downtown Taipei outside the Cabinet-level Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, but an official there said he suspected the protesters were Indians and Nepalis with no links to Tibet.

"Some of them are ignorant about even the most basic facts about Tibet and their exiled leader the Dalai Lama. We have good reasons to believe they're not Tibetans at all," said Chien Shih-yin, the commission's spokesman.

As they were considered illegal immigrants, they were likely to eventually be deported from Taiwan, according to officials.

Taiwan, whose formal name is the Republic of China, officially still insists it is the sole legal government not just of the mainland, but also of Mongolia and Tibet.

This means that in principle any Tibetan or Mongolian has the right to obtain residency on the island. --AFP

Source:French News Agency-AFP (Agency France Press)


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