A Tibetan national flag was found publicly displayed this week on an iron structure in northwestern China’s Qinghai province in defiance of official bans on the banner as a “separatist” symbol of Tibetan nationhood, sources said.
The flag, bearing the images of two snow lions and a sun, was placed on the metal frame in Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) prefecture’s Pema (Baima) county sometime on Sept. 6 and remained hanging until noon the next day, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“It was hung on an iron structure that could have been used as a billboard in Pema county’s Dida town,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The display of the Tibetan flag coincided with China’s official celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Pema county,” the source said, adding that the flag was hung in a place that could be easily seen by others and was later taken down by Chinese officials.
Official celebrations of the county’s founding were held from Sept. 6 to 7, though local Tibetans showed no signs of joy at the event, the source said.
“Tibetans residents of the area have endured great sufferings during the last 60 years, especially during China’s Cultural Revolution [1966-1976], and Tibetans in Golog generally have suffered a lot under Chinese rule,” he said.
Separately, a second source confirmed the flag had been displayed, saying, “A Tibetan national flag with the emblem of two snow lions was displayed on an iron structure in Dida town and remained hanging there until Sept. 7.”
“This could have been an expression of displeasure at the official celebrations marking the 60th founding anniversary of Pema county in Golog,” the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“So far, no one has been apprehended or detained,” he said.
Chinese authorities in Pema county last year demanded that area monasteries and residents pledge loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party and began to impose strict controls on the registration of monks and on information flows out of the region, sources said in earlier reports.
And in December 2013, county police detained two monks and a government worker amid a wider area crackdown following a fatal Nov. 11 self-immolation protest challenging Chinese rule.
The monks were dragged at night from their quarters, while the government worker was beaten and detained after being found with a photo of self-immolation protester Tsering Gyal on her mobile phone, sources said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 143 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.