DHARAMSALA, Feb 16: Tibetans and Tibet supporters in Dharamsala marked the 102nd anniversary of the declaration of Tibetan Independence by highlighting the Tibetan national flag as a symbol of Tibet’s independent past and national identity.
Students for a Free Tibet, an international organization known for its innovative ways of advocating for a free Tibet organized a half-day event focusing on the Tibetan national flag at the TCV Day School here in Mcleod Ganj on Feb 13 to mark the proclamation of Tibetan independence declared by His Holiness the 13th Dalai lama on Feb 13, 1913.
The event comprising of discussion on the origin and symbolism of the Tibetan national flag, a quiz session, a photo exhibition and a music concert is an attempt by exiled Tibetans to reclaim Tibet’s independent past and challenge China’s propaganda about Tibet’s history.
“Despite over 60 years of Chinese occupation and their systematic attempt to erase the history, culture, 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, Asia Director of SFT.
The days event began with the unveiling of independent Tibet’s military flag by former mayor of Tibet’s capital Lhasa, Narkyid Ngawang Dhondup who also explained the origins of the Tibetan national flag during the panel discussion. Other panelists who took part in the discussion were Geshe Monlam Tharchin, Member of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of Students for a Free Tibet and Namgyal Dolkar Lhagyari, Vice President of Gu-Chu-Sum, an ex-political prisoner’s organization.
The panel discussion was followed by a short quiz session centered around the Tibetan national flag and Tibet’s independent past and those who answered the questions correctly were each awarded a Tibetan national flag.
The event ended with a music concert performed by among others, JJI exile brothers, the local rock band who entertained the audience with their performance.
Tibetan Independence day was celebrated in over 30 cities across the world and in India, the day was
observed in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Dharamsala.
In the lead up to the tibetan Independence Day, thousands of Tibetans and Tibet supporters in 5 continents and more than 40 countries participated in the #TibetFlagChallenge initiative featuring the Tibetan flag in unique ways to raise awareness about Tibet’s independent past and the ongoing struggle for freedom.
Since the centennial in 2013, Students for a Free Tibet has been observing February 13 as Tibetan Independence Day to educate people on the significance of Tibet’s independent past as a building block for a future free Tibet.
With its military might People’s Republic of China occupied Tibet in 1959. Since 2009, at least 136 known Tibetans have set their bodies on fire inside Tibet calling for freedom and the return of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama who has been staying in exile in India since 1959 after a failed Tibetan uprising aginst the Chinese government.
People’s Republic of China claims that Tibet has never been an independent country and bans the colourful Tibetan national flag-which is one of the most recognizable symbols of Tibet’s independent past- inside Tibet and Tibetans found in possession of the “snow lion flag” are arrested and sentenced to varying prison terms.