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10-thnovember-2011-rockstarDharamshala, India: - In response to the Indian Central Board of Film Certification's decision to delete an image of a Free Tibet flag from a scene in the upcoming film Rock Star, Tibetans across India have been staging protests, including a cycle rally and march by Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) in Delhi, the capital of India yesterday.

Speaking to the 50 Tibetan and Indian participants, and to the media, SFT Delhi chapter director Spalgon said, "Censoring such a strong message not only shows the violation of free
speech...but also shows the clear sign of how the Chinese government is starting to pressurize India and playing with its largest pride - Indian democracy."

He added, "For Indians, the censoring of the flag might just be an issue of free speech. But for the Tibetans, it's an issue of identity - it's an issue of survival."

Priya Darshini, coordinator of SFT Delhi commented, "As an Indian, I personally fear India might also become like Nepal - a Chinese puppet... The Tibetan flag in the movie
is not only the right of the Tibetans, but also the right which thousands of Indian supporters like me seek..."

Sonam, a participant at the rally, said, "In Tibet, we don't have human rights. We have witnessed eleven cases of self-immolation in the recent six months...

"While escaping from Tibet to exile in India, we always feel the generosity of India being such a huge democratic country. But the recent issue of censoring the Tibetan flag has caused havoc in the hearts of most Tibetans.

"But I am not blaming India. In fact, I request them not to be pressurized by China, and maintain their own value of democracy."

In a letter to Smt. Leela Samson, Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Tibetan Women's Association (TWA) president Dolkar Lhamo Kirti yesterday called on the CBFC to "rescind their decision, which is an affront to the dignity of the six million Tibetans and a shameful violation of freedom of speech and expression."

She said it is noteworthy that the decision was taken in the light of the Cinematography Act, 1952, which issues guidance that films should ensure that "friendly relations with foreign States are not strained".

"We do not see how displaying the Tibetan national flag...will threaten India's relations with China," continued President Kirti, "when the Indian Government have themselves hosted more than 100,000 Tibetans on Indian soil for the last 52 years and have not objected to the Tibetan freedom struggle.

"Should there be a film based on the Tibetan struggle in the near future, as rumours suggest, would the CBFC ban the entire film?"

"This aberrant act...also shows evidence of direct pressure from the Chinese government...We are also aware of the recent Mumbai trip of Xinjiang governor Nur Bekry, who welcomed Bollywood to China."

President Kirti concluded that the TWA is convinced the CBFC will stand up for themselves, and for the ideals they embody.

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