Tibetans Clash With Police Over Chinese Flag Campaign

2013-10-02
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China's People's Armed Police in Driru county this week following a mass protest by residents against the campaign to fly Chinese flags from their homes.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Tibetan residents of a restive county in the Tibet Autonomous Region have clashed with police while resisting a new campaign to fly the Chinese flags from their homes, according to sources.

Tensions in Nagchu (in Chinese, Naqu) prefecture’s Driru (Biru) county following the clashes last week have led to a closure of local schools and a security clampdown, with the township at the center of the protests under complete police control, the sources said.

On Sept. 27, thousands of Chinese government officials and workers arrived in Nagchu to force monasteries and families in the area “to raise the Chinese national flag on every house,” an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.

“Tibetans in some villages refused to comply, and clashed with officials and the police,” the resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When additional security forces arrived and detained a group of villagers, “over 800 Tibetans went to the Driru county center and protested at the door of the county office, demanding the release of those who had been taken away.”

'Military camp'

Mowa township, the center of the disturbance, has now been turned into a “military camp,” the source said.

“Groups of seven paramilitary policemen have been stationed at each house and are watching the Tibetans,” he said, adding, “Villagers are not being allowed to tend to their animals, and any Tibetan found loitering in the town is being taken away.”

“We are still united and resisting Chinese pressure,” he said.

“Because the situation is very tense,” the source continued, “the Tibetans have decided to withdraw their children from the county primary schools. There has been no school for the last two days.”

Internet and other communication channels in the area are now blocked, he said.

Thrown in a river

Separately, Tibetan exile sources confirmed that “violent clashes” had erupted in Driru when villagers from Mowa township refused to fly the Chinese flag from the roofs of their homes, adding that the villagers had thrown the flags distributed to them into a nearby river.

“Over 40 Tibetans were then taken into custody and moved to the Driru county center,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing sources in the region.

When hundreds of Tibetans then gathered to demand their release, a TAR official named Wu Yingji and a Tibetan county official named Dorthup ordered them freed, he said.

“Since 2008, the Chinese authorities have launched TAR-wide campaigns to force Tibetans to show loyalty to the [ruling Chinese Communist] Party  and government, but with no success,” one exile source said.

“The campaign has now failed in Driru, too,” he said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 122 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six Tibetans setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.