By Phuntsok Yangchen
TCV Dayschool, Feb. 13, 2015/Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, February 13: In commemoration of 102nd anniversary of the proclamation of Tibetan Independence by the 13th Dalai Lama, Students for a Free Tibet celebrated the Tibetan National Flag as a symbol of Tibetan Independent Past and National Identity and organized the first-ever public talk on the Tibetan flag here at TCV Day School.
Naykyi Ngawang Dhondup, former Foreign Secretary of Tibetan government in exile and former Mayor of Lhasa city; Geshe Monlam Tharchin, Member of Tibetan Parliament in exile; Namgyal Dolkar Lhagyari, Vice-President of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement for Tibet and Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of Students for a Free Tibet spoke at the gathering and answered question from the audience.
Narkyi Ngawang Dhondup gave a brief account on historical background and symbolism of the flag. He said that the history of the flag dated back to the times of Tibetan Great King Songtsen Gampo and it was redesigned by the 13th Dalai Lama.
Speaking regarding the usage of the flag, Geshe Monlam Tharchin said that no official rule has been set over the usage of the flag and noted that Tibetans should be careful while raising the flag in their homes and protests.
“The national flag has been used as a symbol of resistance but no official rules have been set over the usage of the flag in protests carried outside or inside Tibet. However, irrespective of Tibet’s independence, national flag has been a unifying force of all three provinces of Kham, U-Tsang and Amdo.”
TCV Dayschool, Feb. 13, 2015/Phayul Photo Kunsang Gashon
Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar spoke about the Tibetan flag as the symbol of Tibetan resistance inside Tibet. “Inside Tibet, even though its illegal, banned and forbidden, Tibetans inside Tibet are looking for every opportunity to come out and show that this is what we should be flying and not the Chinese flag,” said Dolkar.
Tibetans inside Tibet have used the Tibetan national flag as a symbol of resistance against China and the possession of Tibetan national flag results in arrest and heavy sentences.
“Despite over 60 years of Chinese occupation and their systematic attempt to erase the history, culture and unique identity of the Tibetan people, Tibetans in Tibet, especially the new generation are reclaiming and securing the truth about Tibet’s history and increasing their calls for freedom,” said
Dorjee Tseten, SFT Asia Director.
“Raising the flag inside Tibet can get you arrested and tortured. By shining a light on the Tibetan national flag we will make it one of the most recognizable flags in the world as a symbol of freedom and resistance. This will help to secure the Tibetans people’s proud past and shape the future for a free Tibet.”
Following the talk, Tibetan singers like Tenzin Dawa Tsona, JJI Exile Brothers and Nawa Kyipo performed in celebration of the day.
An old Tibetan military flag dating back to 1900s and pictures of Tibetan national flag used in Tibetan Uprisings in 1959, 1989 and 2008 were also exhibited.
Similar campaigns were also held in 30 cities around the world. In India, the Tibetan Independence Day was observed in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Dharamshala.
Members of the student group stood with the Tibetan national flag at Rajeev Chowk Metro Station, one of the busiest metro stations of the Indian capital. The group also took a procession with several people carrying the flag following a chariot carrying a portrait of the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Vidhan Sabha metro station to the Tibetan colony, Majnu – Ka – tilla.
Over 40 cities and 15 countries participated in the Flag challenge launched last month by the SFT asking people to pose with the Tibetan flag in unique way on social networking sites.
Students for a Free Tibet, since 2013, began observing February 13 as the day of proclamation of the Tibetan Independence by the 13th Dalai Lama.