Chinese Flag Removed Again

Protesters replace it with a Tibetan flag at an elementary school in Sichuan province.

A Tibetan activist waves a Tibetan flag from an electric pole in a protest during Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie's visit to New Delhi, Sept. 5, 2012.

Updated at 11:15 a.m. EST on 2012-09-10

Tibetan protesters have for the second time pulled down a Chinese flag from a school in Kardze (Ganzi in Chinese) prefecture in Sichuan province, replacing it with the Tibetan flag, and scattered numerous leaflets calling for freedom, sources said.

In a separate development in neighboring Qinghai province, Chinese police have detained a local Tibetan businesswoman activist after she highlighted the importance of Tibetan self-reliance among traders.  

On Friday, the Chinese flag was removed and the Tibetan flag hoisted around midnight at an elementary school in the Tibetan-populated Sershul (Shiqu in Chinese) county, according to Jampa Yonten, a Tibetan exile monk based in southern India, citing sources in the region.

“At midnight on Friday, the Chinese national flag on a pole in the Wenbo township elementary school was taken down, and a Tibetan flag was raised instead,” Jampa Yonten told RFA's Mandarin service on Sunday.

“At that time, there were also a lot of leaflets scattered on the ground in the school. On those leaflets, the words ‘Freedom for Tibet’ were written in red letters.”

Local government officials came to the school on Saturday and removed the Tibetan flag as well as the leaflets and vowed to investigate the incident.

“It is unclear who did this. Thus, there are no arrests so far. But it is said that the authorities are investigating the incident,” Jampa Yonten said.

The exiled monk said the previous Chinese flag-removal incident at the school occurred on February 4 amid a spate of deadly protests against Chinese rule in Sichuan province and that Chinese authorities had then sent hundreds of police personnel to the area in a bid to tighten security.

In neighboring Qinghai province, police detained businesswoman So Yig from the Ye Ground Market in the Yulshul (Yushu in Chinese) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture last Wednesday, according to Kyenrab Nyima, a Tibetan in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.

Police did not cite any reasons for her detention but the activist, who is in her 40's, on the same day had emphasized to her fellow Tibetan traders the importance of wearing traditional attire in line with the "Lhakar" self-reliance movement, Kyenrab Nyima told RFA's Tibetan service.

As part of the self-reliance movement, triggered by the Tibetan uprising in 2008, Tibetans are encouraged to wear traditional clothes, speak Tibetan, eat in Tibetan restaurants, and buy from Tibetan-owned businesses on Wednesdays.

"Last Wednesday, the day of Lhakar, most of the Tibetan business community members at the Ye Ground Market complex were dressed in Tibetan traditional dress but some of them forgot and did not put on Tibetan traditional dress," Kyenrab Nyima said.

"So, So Yig stressed to those Tibetans the importance of putting on Tibetan dress on Lhakar day," he said.  

Hours later, a group of Chinese police arrived at the market area and took So Yig away, "without giving any explanation for her detention," Kyenrab Nyima said, adding, "No information is available on the exact location of her detention.”

So Yig is the daughter of a well-known Tibetan businessman of the Yulshul area, the late Namsey Dhonkyab.

"So Yig is locally known for her activism in performing positive activities for the Tibetan community and Tibetan cause,” Kyenrab Nyima said.

Her arrest came after a group of Tibetan entrepreneurs in Dzatoe (Zaduo in Chinese) county and Tridu (Chenduo) county "pooled a huge sum of money and saved several hundred livestock from being sent to Chinese slaughterhouses," he said.

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the increasing number of Tibetan detentions amid 51 self-immolation protests against Chinese rule since February 2009.

Reported by Dan Zhen for RFA's Mandarin service and Kunsang Tenzin for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee and Ping Chen. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had incorrect spellings for the names Jampa Yonten and Kyenrab Nyima.


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