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China punishes Tibetan for displaying ‘separatist’ Buddhist flags at New Year show

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb07’23) – For displaying Buddhist flags on the backdrop of the stage during a Tibetan New Year celebrations show, China has imposed a huge fine and subjected to political education a Tibetan university student in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) prefecture of Sichuan Province, said Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Feb 7.

The rectangular Buddhist flag with a five-coloured, six vertical stripes, designed in the late 19th century, is used by Buddhists all over the world to underline messages like universal peace and compassion.

The centre said Gephel was taken from his home in the prefecture’s Muge Township in Zungchu (Songpan) County in the evening of Jan 24.

He was stated to have been released on Jan 26, after being made to pay a hefty fine of 50,000 yuan and attend a weekly political education session.

* * *

Muge organized the event on the third day of Sonam Losar, the Tibetan New Year celebrated in parts of Tibet as well as in the Himalayan Buddhist regions, one month ahead of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.

Being the event’s chief organiser, Gephel was stated to have been held responsible for “engaging in activities aimed at splitting the Chinese nation”.

During police interrogation, Gephel was stated to have been accused of breaking the law by displaying the Buddhist flags, which, to the authorities, was the same as the banned Tibetan national flag, while failing to put up communist Chinese Red Flags in their place.

Gephel reportedly sought to convince the officers that the Buddhist flag symbolized universal values of peace, compassion, and wisdom and had nothing to do with politics or splitting the nation, but to no avail.

While the fine was imposed for his alleged separatism, the requirement to attend political education was stated to have been added after he refused to accept conditions on his future conduct such as to display the communist Chinese Red Flag and for show presenters to speak in Chinese in future events, the centre said.

The Chinese authorities have also criminalized Gephel for the fact that all the songs and dances performed during the show were in Tibetan language and it did not feature any propaganda songs that praised the Party or Chinese government.

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