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Tibet-SFT-2015-IndependenceDharamshala: - The first ever public talk on the Tibetan national flag was held in Dharamsala on February 13 to coincide with Tibetan Independence Day.

The talk took place at The Tibet Children's Village Day School where Former Foreign Secretary of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Narkyi Ngawang Dhondup, Member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Geshe Monlam Tharchin, Vice President of the Tibetan political prisoner movement Gu Chu Sum Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, and Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) Asia Director Dorjee Tsetan formed a panel of speakers who discussed the flag as a symbol of the continued struggle of the Tibetan people against Chinese occupation.

The discussion was part of a wider network of public commemorations in over 30 cities around the world, where the Tibetan flag was raised in solidarity to recognise the country's former independence. In the run up to Independence Day, a Twitter campaign was organised – #TibetFlagChallenge – that asked the public to take photos of themselves holding the Tibetan flag in unique locations to raise awareness about the flag itself and what it represents. Pictures were received from over 40 cities across 15 countries and 5 continents.

Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet Tenzin Dolkar, who chaired the discussion, said of the day: "By publicly commemorating our proud history as an independent nation – a history that the Chinese government has spent 60 years trying to erase from the global consciousness – we are reclaiming our past for future generations while strengthening our struggle so that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and all Tibetans can one day reunite in a free Tibet."

The significance of discussing and raising the Tibetan flag is enhanced by the fact that to do so within Tibet is illegal. Tseten commented: "Raising the flag inside Tibet can get you arrested and tortured. By shining a light on the Tibetan national flag we want to make it one of the most recognisable flags in the world as a symbol of freedom and resistance."

The annual celebration of Tibetan Independence on February 13 honours His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama's 1913 proclamation of Tibetan Independence, a year after the inception of the current national flag design.

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