Residents of a Tibetan township in western China’s Qinghai province are refusing demands by authorities to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes after deadly protests against similar orders swept a county in the neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) earlier this month, sources said.
Only a few households in the Tsodru township of the Genkhuk district, Chentsa (in Chinese, Jianzha) county, in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture have complied with the demands, the sources said.
The refusal highlights what appears to be a growing resistance, even outside the TAR, to forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state and the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The order made at the weekend targeted Tibetan homes, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Monday.
“Against the will of the local Tibetans, the Chinese demanded that Tibetan families fly the Chinese flag from their houses on Oct. 13,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Gateway topped by Chinese flag at the entrance to Genkhuk township, Oct. 13, 2013. (Photo courtesy of an RFA listener)
To date, only 15 out of about 300 families in the district have obeyed the order, a second area resident told RFA, calling even this minimal level of compliance “bad news.”
“Some Tibetan families in my village have hoisted the Chinese flag. This is a disgrace to the Tibetan people, and we feel sad and disappointed,” the source said, also speaking anonymously.
“I don’t know when the rest of our homes will be forced to put up with this. As for myself, I will never raise the flag, even if it means my death,” he said.
The order to put up the flags was issued through district chairman Sonam Kyab and other township leaders, the source said, adding that an ornamental gate topped by a Chinese flag had been erected at the township’s entrance on Sunday.
“We wish that we had never been born into such an environment,” he said.Deadly protests
The move followed weeks of protests in Driru (Biru) county in the TAR’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture this month in which Tibetan villagers refused to fly Chinese flags from their homes, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.
Shootings in Driru’s Sengthang and Trinring villages on Oct. 8 left four dead and at least 50 injured, sources said.
Meanwhile, 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 Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.