LONDON: Notwithstanding a protest by a couple of Chinese businessmen last Friday in front of the Guildhall in Northampton calling on Northampton Borough Council to abandon their plans to hoist the Tibetan national flag, the much-anticipated annual event went ahead on Monday, 5 March for the 19th consecutive year.
The Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Gareth Eales; Deputy Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Phil Larratt; and the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Baltic States and Poland, Chonpel Tsering; along with Caroline Scattergood, the main organiser of this annual event and long-time Tibet supporter jointly hoisted the Tibetan national flag.
A crowd of around 140 people, mostly locals from the Northampton area, witnessed the flag raising ceremony and listened to the speech delivered by the guests with great interest and enthusiasm.
In his address to the gathering, the Mayor reiterated Northampton Borough Council’s strong support for the annual Tibetan flag-raising event and for the need to highlight the human rights situation in Tibet.
Representative Chonpel Tsering thanked the Mayor and Councillor Phil Larratt, and all the members of the public attending the ceremony and informed them that their support and solidarity is deeply appreciated and valued by the Tibetan people. Further, Representative Tsering expressed his deepest gratitude to Caroline Scattergood for her steadfast determination and unwavering support for the Tibetan people in organising the event for 19 years, despite the many challenges that Caroline and her key group of helpers have faced over the years.
The Representative presented a traditional Tibetan khatak each to the Mayor, the Deputy Leader of Northampton Borough Council and Caroline Scattergood as a small token of appreciation on behalf of the Tibetan people.
Referring specifically to the protest outside the Guildhall by two Chinese businessmen, the Representative remarked: “It is an irony that they utilised the freedom of expression and the political rights afforded to them in this democratic and free country to voice their opposition to the hosting of the flag-raising ceremony when it is these very same freedoms and rights that are being denied to Tibetans in occupied Tibet. Tibetans protesting against the Chinese authorities’ repressive policies and demanding the most basic of rights are routinely arrested, tortured and often given lengthy prison sentences. It is, therefore, very important that the flag-raising ceremony was held not only to show support for the Tibetan people but also as a means of resisting the Chinese authorities’ assertive attempts to silence voices around the world that are critical about their misrule in Tibet.”
The Northampton Tibetan flag raising ceremony is held every year in March to mark the Tibetan National Uprising Day.
On 7 March, a coalition of Tibet Groups consisting of the Tibetan Community in Britain, Free Tibet, Tibet Society and Students for Free Tibet will lobby British Parliamentarians for the UK Tibet Lobby Day 2018.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, London-