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WASHINGTON, March 25, 2004�Chinese authorities have launched a political re-education program at an official television station in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa after it broadcast shots containing the Tibetan national flag, which is banned in Tibet under Chinese rule, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

The offending footage was broadcast around 8 p.m. Feb. 21, the first day of new year in the Tibetan calendar, by Lhasa-based Tibet TV3. It showed a Tibetan man in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu with a huge Tibetan national flag behind him. The program was titled "Wonders of the Earth,� a source familiar with the incident told RFA�s Tibetan service.

Sources close to the incident say the footage was broadcast inadvertently after a member of the news staff of the Han Chinese ethnicity failed to identify the flag in the background. The image was broadcast for just under five seconds. A retired member of the television station staff spotted the flag and reported to Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) television authorities that it had been broadcast, sources said.

The program sparked an outcry among Chinese officials. The director of Tibet TV3 was demoted but no one was detained. They were told to acknowledge their mistake at a meeting at the TAR Department of Information and Communication, sources said. Most of the junior staff at the station were ethnic Han Chinese, working part-time. All staff must now undergo re-education and write self-criticisms acknowledging their error.

One source said the program was originally made in China and later sent to Tibet TV3, but no further details were available.

Tibet TV3�s officials declined to comment when contacted by RFA.

Beijing has recently banned a book on Tibet in Chinese that touches on sensitive religious issues, including how the exiled Dalai Lama is still revered by Tibetans inside Tibet, a London-based rights group said reported.

�Notes on Tibet,� written in Chinese by the Tibetan author Oser, was banned late last year after Oser tried to get it published in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where the political climate is usually more tolerant, the Tibet Information Network said.

The book, a collection of 38 essays describing the author's encounters with different people and places in Tibet, contained 10 essays considered sufficiently contentious to warrant banning the book.

The author previously worked at the Chinese-language journal �Tibetan Literature in Lhasa� but has fled the Tibetan capital over the controversy surrounding her book.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's religious and political leader, fled Lhasa in 1959 after an unsuccessful revolt against Chinese rule. He is now the head of the Tibetan Government in Exile in Dharamsala, India.

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia.

Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance and fairness in its editorial content.#####


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