Blue and red flags come under fire for plagiarism
A new controversy has presented itself as the dust settles on this year’s Independence Day celebrations. Officials representing East Turkestan and the country of Turkey sued Pakistan for its 14th August Independence Day celebrations, citing copyright infringement and plagiarism.
Pakistan stands accused of repetitively producing plagiarised decorative items and memorabilia, touted as patriotic goods, year in and year out. Come August the streets and markets are full of vendors selling all manners of flags from tiny pins for one’s clothing to large flags for their rooftops, and things were no different this year around.
The main problem doesn’t lie with any of the items that are coloured in green and white. The issue lies with some decorative items in the form of small paper flags, known popularly as “jhandiyan”, which often sway from the traditional green and white colour to red or blue, as pictured below:
While many people feel that these flags are cute and help add variety to the decorations that are put up for Independence Day, not a lot of them ever bother thinking of what these flags represent. The red version, for instance is actually Turkey’s flag, while the blue is precisely the one used by East Turkestan to represent themselves.
The design is frighteningly similar to East Turkestan’s flag:
And more famously, the red version which signifies Turkey
The notification for the plagiarism and copyright issue was first sent to the Pakistan foreign office. This has caused a huge row as the other two groups are tired of Pakistan’s plagiarising ways. “They have no respect for copyright or originality, they even copy another nation’s flag with no problem whatsoever,” shrieked one Turkish official, “Who do they think they are? They can’t just slap on their name ‘Pakistan’ and random slogans like ‘Pakistan zindabad’ onto our flags and pretend that they are theirs,” he continued.
Most of the red and blue flags will have some text or the other printed next to them which makes it appear as though the white space is only added so that the text can be supported, and not because it is meant to be a part of the actual flag. So the officials from both Turkey and East Turkestan are mistaken when they think that the white space is not a part of the flag. Their misconception was further fuelled by several human rights groups that have on occasion launched campaigns depicting the flag with just the green part to outline Pakistan’s horrific track record with minorities. On other occasions the white area has been marked with red or black colour to emphasise torture or persecution of minorities.
Officials are now threatening with legal action if Pakistan does not stop representing itself through their flags. “We do not wish to be associated with any celebration or legacy that the country is a part of. It has a terrible reputation no matter what context it is seen in, and we are better off as far away from it as possible,” said a diplomat representing East Turkestan. “We do not appreciate our flags being hijacked and will not stand for this, this amounts to propaganda,” he added.
Pakistan’s foreign office was slow to react to the news as celebrations for 14th August were already underway and he didn’t know how to tackle the problem during the public holiday. But once back in office the first statement released shows that the office does not see this as a large problem. “It’s just a little bit of colour, Holi per bhi tu rang se kheltey hain bachay, tab tu kisi ko bura nahi lagta,” lamented one of the officials.
“It’s just for children, and children do not know any better, they only know what we teach them and we have clearly taught them that the real flag is only green… and a little bit white. We apologise for any hurt that has been caused by this, but think of the children,” advised a senior Pakistani official from the foreign office.
At present a diplomatic solution is being sought to the problem with many wondering how the country brought itself to this point. We will have to wait and see whether next year’s celebrations will be any different.
The writer is a huge fan of celebrating independence days, whether it’s on the 14th of August or the 4th of July. You can email [email protected] to further discuss the matter.