10/08/2013, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Forty Tibetans arrested for protesting against China's red flag

Diru County is again the scene of clashes between Communist authorities and residents. In Mowa village, locals revolt against the obligation of raising the Chinese flag where normally prayer flags stand. This is followed by police crackdown. Students go on strike against the expulsion of fellow students whose parents participated in anti-government protest.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - Communist authorities in County Diru arrested some 40 Tibetans for protested the crackdown against the residents of Mowa village, "guilty" of not raising China's red flag on their roofs. These arrests, and Beijing's renewed political campaigns against the Tibetan way of thinking, have further exacerbated relations between the Tibetan people and the central government in Beijing.

The affair began on 28 September, when Chinese police clashed for about three hours with residents of Mowa village, Diru County. Agents were trying to enforce China's 'Nine Haves' policy, which requires Tibetans to have certain objects and engage in certain actions. They include having a Chinese flag and raising it on rooftops, a space traditionally reserved for sacred prayer flags.

Instead of complying, people threw the Chinese flags into a nearby river, triggering the reaction of the authorities. Soon after, about 40 residents from nearby villages (Takhla, Baro, Neshod, and Taring) staged a protest in front of the Public Security headquarters to complain about the use of violence, and were eventually arrested.

At present, their fate is still unknown. Similarly, the number of people wounded in the clashes remains unknown. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy could also not confirm claims that unarmed Tibetans came under fire.

The next day, more than a thousand Tibetans staged a 24-hour hunger strike to demand the release of those arrested and an end to the flag campaign.

On 29 September, more than 4,000 primary and middle school pupils went out on protest after the authorities threatened to expel students whose parents had participated in demonstrations against the government. Only 60 students, all children of ethnic Han Chinese government employees, stayed behind.

After they left school buildings, protesters marched to the headquarters of the County government where they were forcibly removed by the police.

​​Diru is currently under 'special watch' by Communist authorities who brought in 18,000 officials on 10 September to enforce the law and ensure that people comply with Beijing's orders.

The local government also announced "harsh punishment" for those who refuse to fulfil certain obligations.

Protesters can in fact be expelled from school or lose their jobs, see their medical treatment suspended and be denied the right to grow medicinal plants, a major source of income in the district.

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