Man arrested for hoisting Tibetan flag atop his new home

A symbol of unity and protest, the flag is banned by Chinese authorities.
By Lobsang and Dorjee Damdul for RFA Tibetan
Man arrested for hoisting Tibetan flag atop his new home Exile Tibetan students of the Tibetan Children's Village School put up a Tibetan flag at their playground in preparation for their 54th founding anniversary celebrations in Dharmsala, India, Oct. 22, 2014.
Ashwini Bhatia/AP

A Tibetan man was arrested last week for hoisting the Tibetan national flag –  banned inside Tibet by China – atop his newly constructed home, three sources with knowledge of the situation said.

It is illegal for Tibetans to possess or display the Tibetan national flag, which features a yellow sun with red and blue rays, images of two snow lions and a multi-colored jewel representing Buddhist values. 

On the evening of May 28, Rabgang Tenzin, a 51-year-old father of three, hoisted the Tibetan national flag on the rooftop in his new home in Pashoe county, or Baxoi in Chinese, in Tibet’s Chamdo Prefecture as part of a consecration ceremony, said the sources who requested anonymity for safety reasons. 

Tenzin forgot to take down the flag the next morning because he fell asleep, said the first source from inside Tibet.

“The next day, the Chinese police arrested him, and his current whereabouts are unknown,” he said. 

The flag is a symbol of unity and protest for Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet, and Chinese authorities have censored it from all media within China. 

Those caught owning, hoisting or waving the flag, or even having an image of it on their mobile phone, face arrest.

Keep quiet

Chinese authorities have warned other Tibetans in Pashoe to refrain from discussing the incident with “outside forces,” and that anyone who does so could face similar consequences, the second source said.

Tenzin, a farmer who occasionally engages in small business, has an eldest child who is about 10 years old and attends Pashoe County Elementary School. Residents now fear that his child may be expelled from school, said the two sources. 

Other Tibetans in Tibet and in Tibetan-populated areas of China’s western provinces caught displaying the flag have received jail terms.

In 2012, Sonam Gonpo, a monk from Dza Wonpo Monastery in Sershul county in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the northwest of Sichuan province, received a four-year prison sentence for hoisting the Tibetan national flag at a local school. 

Earlier this year, a township in New Jersey raised the Tibetan flag in celebration of the Tibetan New Year, despite facing pressure from the Chinese government to not proceed with the initiative. 

The incident illustrated how far Chinese officials will go to try to exert control over members of Tibetan diaspora communities abroad, especially during politically sensitive anniversaries and holidays.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan. Edited by Tenzin Pema for RFA Tibetan, and by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.


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Jun 15, 2024 12:19 PM

Translation: It is obvious that this report is fabricated fake news. My friend who lives in Qamdo, Tibet, told me yesterday that this did not happen.

Jun 16, 2024 08:53 PM

The rumormongers are really hateful. They are irresponsible and have no conscience at all. This kind of behavior is disrespectful to others and must be severely condemned!

Jun 16, 2024 10:14 PM

My friends in Tibet said that this incident did not happen. After reading this report, I can say with certainty that it is a fabrication.

Aaron Larry Gibbs
Jun 16, 2024 10:39 PM

The remarks on the Internet about "man arrested for flying Tibetan flag" have been verified as false information. We should respect facts, not spread unverified news, and jointly maintain social harmony and stability.

Jun 17, 2024 05:45 AM

No pics no proof.

Jul 01, 2024 09:12 PM

This report has no truth at all, even no photos, is it like the previous report in Cambodia, after reporting because of lies and guilt to hide from the wind.