Brussels, Rome and Jakarta, May 16 (CNA) Taiwanese in Brussels, Rome and several other European cities, as well as Sydney in Australia took to the streets Thursday to protest Taiwan's exclusion from the upcoming annual World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.
Dubbed "Walk with Taiwan" and organized by Taiwan's representative offices overseas, the events brought together overseas Taiwanese to show support for the country's participation in the global health organization.
In Brussels, the march drew the participation of about 300 Taiwanese, who waved their national flag and carried banners that read "Support Taiwan, Support Democracy" and "Health for All, Taiwan Can Help."
Members of the Belgium-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, including Peter Luykx and Georges Dallemagne, also joined the short march from La Monnaie opera house to the Taipei representative office in Square de Meeus.
Tseng Ho-jen (曾厚仁), Taiwan's representative to the EU and Belgium, told CNA that the march was organized in response to Taiwan's unfair exclusion from the annual meeting of the WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization.
"The march is about highlighting Taiwan's democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights and its shared values with the EU," Tseng said.
It was also about telling the world that Taiwan has been excluded from the WHA due to political pressure, he said.
Taiwan's representative to Italy Lee Sing-ying (李新穎), meanwhile, thanked the Taiwanese participants at the Rome event for helping make the country's voices heard.
("Walk with Taiwan" in Rome)
According to Lee, the "Walk with Taiwan" event was held across 25 cities across Europe.
Local attendees included Italian Senator Lucio Malan, who heads the Italy-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, and Italian lawmakers Marco Di Maio and Nicola Carè.
In Sydney, the event also drew in a large crowd of local expatriates in support of Taiwan's cause. ("Walk with Taiwan" in Sydney)
Taiwan had hoped to attend the May 20-28 WHA in Geneva as an observer, as it did from 2009 to 2016, but failed to obtain an invitation for the third year in row due to obstruction by China.
China has been taking a harder line on Taiwan's participation in international organizations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in May 2016.
(By Tang Pei-chun, Huang Ya-shih, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Lin)