Activists raise Tibetan flag in last-ditch call for freedom

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 1997, 12:00am


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Protesters unveiled Tibet's national flag in a last-ditch call for Tibetan freedom yesterday before the handover makes such actions illegal.

Dorji Dolma of the Australia Tibetan Council said Hong Kong had only four days of freedom of expression where Tibetan matters were concerned.

After Monday, speaking out publicly about Tibet would be outlawed, according to the Chief Executive-designate, she said.

'Tung Chee-hwa has already said that anything that threatens China's national security will be banned.' She said displaying the Tibetan national flag would also be illegal, as it is in Tibet and China.

'This is the last time we can do this in Hong Kong,' she said. 'For an action like this in Tibet you would be arrested and could be held in prison for a number of years without being tried.' Ms Dolma said China had broken all its promises to Tibet of freedom and autonomy. It detained and tortured thousands of people there every year, she said.

'Hong Kong people must speak up for their rights. If they do not, no one else will speak up for them.' But although their peaceful protest in Statue Square was allowed to continue yesterday, it concerned police, who asked for their details, and Urban Services Department staff, who took photographs.

An Urban Services Department spokesman said the pictures were of the words on the flag, not of the protesters.

'The action was a non-designated use of Statue Square and the park-keeper did not speak English so he took photographs for record only.' The park-keeper normally took photographs of non-designated activities in Statue Square, which was intended for leisure only, she said.