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01october2011-taiwanTaipei: - Despite stormy weather conditions in Taipei Sunday, 2nd October 49 people -Tibetans and Taiwanese alike - staged a bicycle rally in the city to commemorate Tibetan monks who set themselves alight to protest China's rule over Tibet.

"Tibet belongs to Tibetans!" "China, get out of Tibet!" were among the slogans shouted by the 49 cyclists, who attracted the attention of passers-by and drivers as they cycled through the streets.

On each bicycle was a Tibetan flag, while each biker carried signs calling for freedom for Tibet.

"It's the responsibility of each Tibetan to defend our freedom, especially the freedom of religion, since religion is at the root of our culture," Regional Tibetan Youth Congress Taiwan president Tenzin Choephel told the crowd before the fleet of bicycles departed from a park across the street from Taipei 101. "When I said it's our responsibility, I mean that we will defend our freedom even if that means scarifying our lives."

"We gather here to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the Tibetan cause and we call on all freedom lovers to join us," Tenzin said. "Let's fight for freedom for Tibet! Let's fight for the independence of Tibet!"

Tenzin's comments referred to previous incidents in which Tibetans took their own lives in political protest. Following an uprising in Lhasa in March 2008, seven people - mostly monks - committed suicide to protest against Chinese rule.

Since 2009, five Tibetan monks have expressed their discontent with Chinese occupation of Tibet through self-immolation - four of which were suicides that took place this year.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) Taiwan president Fong Jyun-shan pointed out that when SFT Taiwan planned the event, it wanted to remember Tsewang Norbu, the Tibetan monk who self himself on fire on Aug. 15, on the 49th day after his death.

Buddhists believe one's spirit knows whether it will be reincarnated, or enter hell or heaven, by the 49th day of one's death.

"However, [during the preparation for the event] under the repression of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party regime, two more monks committed suicide through self-immolation. So many suicide cases mean that the 2008 uprising in Lhasa never ended and China has never ceased its repression of Tibetans," Fong said as he cried. "We have to think about what's pushing the Tibetans to hurt themselves as an act of protest and we have to do something about it."

Fong also called on President Ma Ying-jeou to uphold his campaign promises in 2008 to support Tibetans' struggle for freedom, as well as supporting His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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