Prague city welcomes exile Tibetan leader in reversal of a 2016 Xi event

Mr Zdenek Hrib, Mayor of Prague present the symbolic key to President Dr Lobsang Sangay at the Old City Hall on 6 March 2019. (Photo courtesy: Andrea.svob)

(, Mar08’19) – In something of a historic reversal of a controversial event which took place in 2016, the new mayor of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, has officially welcomed and presented a symbolic key to the city gates to President Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) on Mar 6. It was the same key the city’s then pro-China mayor gave to Chinese President Xi Jinping during the latter’s official visit more than two years ago. The key serves as a “symbol of trust and friendship”.

“It is a great honour and high privilege for me to officially welcome you,” Mayor Zdenek Hrib of the Pirate Party was quoted as saying to President Sangay in his opening speech.

“[W]e are going to raise the Tibetan flag on the buildings of Prague City Hall…[to]…commemorate the upcoming anniversary of 1959 Tibetan Uprising as well as to show solidarity with your people and their uneven struggle for cultural survival within the People’s Republic of China,” CTA quoted Hrib as saying.

During a similar official reception and the symbolic key ceremony to welcome Chinese President Xi in 2016, Czech police officers controversially seized all Tibetan flags from pro-Tibet support groups, including from a university campus.

But now, after a decade-long gap, the city will fly the Tibetan national flag at the Old City Hall from March 8 to 11.

Besides, as in past many years, some 700 local councils, schools, and organizations, among others, across the Czech Republic will fly the Tibetan flag in commemoration of Mar 10, 1959.

Given the fact that even possessing the Tibetan flag is a crime in Chinese ruled Tibet, Sangay has said flying it represents an act of defiance and “one should send a message that the Tibetan flag is a symbol of democracy, human rights and non-violence.”


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