Showing of the flag

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Aug 18 2013

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Category: Asia, China-Tibet

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I was born after the Second World War in a liberated Netherlands. It had just suffered five years of occupation by Nazi Germany. I remember very well the yearly festivities during my childhood of the 5th of May, the day in 1945 that the country was liberated from its occupiers. When I visited Tibet in 1996, one of the things that made a deep impression on me was the general atmosphere of distrust between Tibetans and Chinese, especially the omnipresent Chinese military. It was here that I personally experienced how it feels having to submit to the yoke of a powerful and hostile occupying force. It suddenly struck home to me how it must have been in my own country during the years of occupation by the Germans. In those circumstances people try living their own lives for better or for worse. They have no choice than to tolerate the occupiers, even to cooperate with them to a certain extent. But the dilemma of when cooperation becomes collaboration must constantly weigh heavily on their minds.

Tibetans are a strong and admirable people, used to survive in the thin air on the roof of the world. On high mountain peaks and passes they hang strings of colourful prayer flags, so that the wind can spread their messages of peace over the lands of the earth. Tibetans do have their national flag too, but like the portraits of their spiritual leader, its display in their own country is strictly forbidden.

Photo of the week: Lhasa, Tibet, 1996

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