More Tibetan Areas Defy Orders to Fly Chinese Flag

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Chinese flags fly at a Tibetan monastery in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Residents of two more Tibetan-populated counties in Chinese provinces are refusing orders to fly China’s national flag from their homes, as authorities continue to press a campaign of forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, sources in the region say.

The latest acts of defiance were reported in Sichuan province’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) county in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and in Dzatoe (Zaduo) county in Qinghai province’s Yulshul (Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Previously, Tibetans in another county in Qinghai had refused the order to fly the flag, and residents of a county in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) took flags distributed for display and dumped them in a river, prompting a security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.

This week in Kardze county, officials in Dongkhor township called meetings in area villages to urge local residents to fly the flag, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.

“Beginning yesterday or the day before, government officials of Dongkhor township visited villages in Dongkhor and convened meetings in which they stressed the importance of flying Chinese flags from the roofs of people’s homes,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“However, Tibetans attending the meetings strongly objected to the idea, arguing that Tibetan houses in the area had never flown Chinese flags in the past,” he said.

Officials countered by saying that people in other areas had already agreed to fly the flag, adding that compliance in those places had resulted in “generous government assistance.”  

And while villagers were free to express their views and concerns,  “no one”—not even the officials themselves— could predict the consequences of continued refusal, they said.

'No one is flying the flags'

Meanwhile, in Dzatoe county, an area hit by protests against Chinese mining operations, officials have also issued orders to Tibetan homes and monasteries to fly the Chinese flag, a local source told RFA, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

“In the past, the Chinese authorities have only ordered Tibetans involved in protests against the government to fly the flags from their homes, but now the local people are worried that everyone may be forced to do so,” RFA’s source said.

The families of government employees and recipients of government assistance have been told to take the lead in flying the flags, he said.

“But so far, no one is flying the flags from their homes.”

Separately, a Tibetan living in India confirmed the order, citing local sources.

“So far, not a single house is flying the Chinese flag on their house,” he said.

On Oct. 15, residents of a Tibetan township in Qinghai’s Chentsa (Jianzha) county refused demands to hoist the Chinese flag, highlighting the growing resistance to forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state and the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The move followed weeks of protests in Driru (Biru) county in the TAR’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture earlier in the month in which Tibetan villagers refused to fly Chinese flags from their homes, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown.

Shootings in Driru’s Sengthang and Trinring villages on Oct. 8 left four dead and at least 50 injured, sources said.

Earlier, on Oct. 6, security forces shot and wounded at least 60 Driru-area Tibetans demanding the release of a villager who had led protests against Chinese orders to hoist the flags.

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 setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

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


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