Three Tibetans Detained for Refusing to Fly the Chinese Flag

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

Chinese authorities in Tibet have detained three villagers for refusing to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, as local officials continue to press a campaign forcing displays of loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The three were taken into custody this week in Pashoe (in Chinese, Basu) county in the Chamdo (Changdu) prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday, citing contacts in the region.

“About three days ago, township officials visited two villages called Polung and Muko in Pashoe and insisted that Tibetan residents place Chinese flags on their houses,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“When the Tibetans refused to do this, the officials warned that noncompliance would be treated as anti-state activity, and when the Tibetans continued to refuse, the authorities detained two from Polung and one from Muko.”

The source declined to provide the names of those who were detained, citing concerns over possible retaliation by authorities against the individuals involved.

Police and paramilitary forces are now restricting the movements of local Tibetans, and Tibetans traveling through the area are being stopped and searched, he said.

“Their mobile phones are being confiscated, and authorities are attempting to track all contacts made outside the Chamdo area.”

Loyalty campaign

A Chinese campaign to identify and monitor the political views of villagers throughout Tibetan regions has been particularly intrusive in Chamdo prefecture, according to Tibetan sources.

Families in the region’s farming and nomadic communities must display photographs of top Chinese leaders, sources say, while monasteries and private homes in Chamdo have been ordered to fly the Chinese flag.

“If they refuse, this will be treated as a ‘political error,’” Beijing-based Tibetan poet and blogger Tsering Woeser said earlier this month, citing information gathered from travelers to the area.

On July 1, Chinese authorities in Pashoe county detained a young monk after he disrupted official celebrations of Communist Party rule by shouting slogans calling for Tibetan independence, sources in the region and in exile said.

Lobsang Gendun, aged about 20, “called out for about five minutes before he was overpowered by police and removed from the scene,” one source said.

Shortly after Gendun was taken away, a Chinese police force arrived at the nearby Drongsar monastery, to which the monk belonged, “but it is difficult to know what kind of restrictive actions may have been taken there,” the source said.

To date, a total of 121 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The burning protests come as reports indicate that Tibetan human rights have plunged to a new low amid arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, and the erosion of language and cultural rights.

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

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