By Tenzin Dharpo
Lawmakers from the Czech conservative opposition TOP 09 and former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (left) hang Tibetan national flags from the windows of the Chamber of Deputies to oppose Chinese President Xi Jingping's maiden visit to Czech Republic, March 29, 2016 Photo: ČTK Burian Michal
DHARAMSHALA, March 30: Members of the Czech opposition party TOP 09 yesterday displayed two Tibetan national flags from the windows of the Chamber of Deputies in an apparent protest against the current President Milos Zeman’s “servility” to host the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping who was on his maiden visit to the erstwhile communist country.
Former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who was one of Czech lawmakers hanging Tibetan flag from Chamber of Deputies also condemned the ‘over the top’ hosting courtesies extended by Zeman who invited Xi to the Presidential residence in the village of Lany near Prague. “There is even a strong reason to protest against the approach of our big shots. I have never come across such servility as I can see now, Even Hacha (Czech President in the 40’s) never invited Hitler there (the presidential residence in Lany)," he told Czech media.
Pro-Tibet demonstrators tether themselves to lamp posts
On Monday (March 28), many pro-Tibet demonstrators took to the airport road protesting before Xi’s passing motorcade and displaying few giant photos of the Dalai Lama and the former Czech President Vaclav Havel. Some protesters resorted to tying themselves to lamp posts and others forming human chains to avoid being taken away were eventually arrested by the police. Some protesters have also been physically injured in the melee. Incidents of demonstrators being confronted and attacked by Chinese government personnel in the Czech capital were also reported although it could not be independently verified.
“This is not true” responded Schwarzenberg on the claims by the current President Zeman who told CCTV earlier that a new beginning is coming because the previous Czech government had very bad dealings with China as it was under the pressure of the EU and the US. "It was our own policy that we defended the human rights, also in Tibet, but we were never under any pressure," he said while denouncing XI as a dictator who is responsible for the death of many and has consolidated power more than ever since being at the helm of the Communist party.
There is a strong support for Tibet movement in Czech Republic due to the Tibetan leader’s personal friendship with the late president of the erstwhile communist nation. On the 57th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising observed on the 10th of March this year, municipalities, offices, and individuals participated in the “flag for Tibet” initiative where the Tibetan flags were displayed on the buildings for the day. Earlier this month, more than 700 municipalities across Czech Republic participated in the event, the most since its inception in 1996.
Xi was on a two - day state visit to the Czech Republic starting Monday to boost bilateral ties and trade commitments.