Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

12 January 2020

Remember Tenpa Darjey and Chimey Palden March 30 2012

For Tenpa Darjey, 22 yrs old and Chimey Palden, 21 yrs old, who set themselves on fire on March 30 2012  in Barkham, Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet.

They, both monks from Tsodun Kirti Monastery in Barkham, together carried out a protest in front of the prefectural government offices and were taken to the hospital.

Chimey Palden was declared dead on the next day of their self-immolation protest.
Tenpa Darjey passed away on April 7 at a hospital in Ngaba area.

Their bodies were cremated by the Chinese authorities and ashes and remains were handed over to their families after,  despite of fervent requests of their families and the monastery to return their bodies.

March 30, their protest day, happened to be the same day when Jamphel Yeshe's body was carried to  and cremated in Dharamsala after his self immolation protest in New Delhi.

30 December 2019

Remember Sherab, March 28 and Jamphel Yeshi, March 26 2012

For Sherab, a 20 year old monk, who set himself on fire on March 28, 2012 in Cha township,Ngaba,Tibet. 

For Jamphel Yeshi, who set himself on fire  at a demonstration on March 26, 2012 in New Delhi, India.

Sherab passed away on site and the paramilitary police in Ngaba removed his body immediately following his self immolation, ignoring pleas for his body to be handed over to his family. 
He was a monk at the small Ganden Tenpenling monastery in Rauwa since the age of nine and also studied at Kirti monastery in Ngaba. 

Jamphel Yeshe was from Kardze, Kham, Tibet.  He arrived in India several years ago. 
He set himself on fire in the midst of 500 Tibetan demonstrators protesting against the visit by Hu Jintao and ran, engulfed in flames before fellow activists put out the blaze with Tibetan flags and rushed him to hospital. He passed away a few days after. 

The news of  Sherab's self immolation protest and of Jamphel Yeshe's passing at the hospital 
arrived on the same day, March 29th to Tibetan community in exile. 

One passed away in his homeland, another in exile, after crossing many mountains and rivers. 
They were far away, however, their will and spirit were in the same place. 

Jamphel Yeshe gave away all his possessions before he carried out his protest and left his final letter behind.  This letter is for his fellow Tibetans at the same time, it speaks to us, especially when there are millions of people standing up for their justice and freedom at this moment in the world. 

Freedom is the basis of happiness for all living beings. 
Without freedom, six million Tibetans are like a butter lamp in the wind, without direction.
My fellow Tibetans from Three Provinces, it is clear to us all that if we put our strength together,
there will be results. 
So, don't be disheartened. 
(translated by Chuchung D Sonam)

May we have courage to stand up firmly together for fellow brothers and sisters with butter lamps in our palms without being blown in wind. 

28 November 2019

For Yonten November 26 2019

For Yonten, 24 years old, who died in self immolation on November 26 2019 in Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet.
He was a monk at Kirti monastery however disrobed to help his family in their nomadic livelihood.  
He passed away on site after carrying out his protest around 4 pm. 

This marks the 165th Tibetan to self immolate in occupied Tibet and in exile since 2008.

The sad news arrived on the cold winter day.  Cold wind was blowing in the grey sky.
If it is cold here, his hometown must have been much colder there. 

I thought of his passing alone on the far away high plateau.
Hundreds of small streams,green pasture land and mountains are controlled, exploited and divided into pieces just as to the people who belong there. 

I thought of his fellow brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives for dignity and freedom.

I pray for his fellow brothers and sisters who are standing up for dignity and freedom at this moment 
in Tibet and in the world.   Although one knows praying is not enough. 

8 November 2019

Paths - Over Hundreds of Rivers ( Workshop and mini exhibition) in Cheonan City, Republic of Korea, November 2019

For a workshop in Cheonan
천안 워크샵
Title: Paths – Over a Hundred Rivers
제목: 길 - 수 백 개의 강을 건너
In this workshop we will explore themes of reconciliation, healing, empathy, and sustainability through dialogues – our own inner dialogue, as well as dialogues between participants.
이번 워크샵에서 참가자들은 대화를 통해 화해, 치유, 공감, 지속 가능성에 대해 얘기할 것입니다. 각자 내면의 대화를 하게 되고 또 참가자들 간의 대화를 나누게 될 것입니다.
We will use mainly Korean and Japanese paper – as well as other handmade papers – using mixed media techniques such as drawing/painting, stitching, cutting and pasting, collaging, and mending.
주로 한지나 일본 종이를 사용하게 되고 또 다른 핸드메이드 종이를 사용하게 될 것입니다.
드로잉/페인팅, 바느질, 자르기, 붙이기, 콜라주 등 여러 가지 혼합 매체 테크닉을 사용하게 될 것입니다.
Each participant will work on a sheet of paper for their contemplative inner journey with the above themes. At the same time, another set of paper of different sizes and kinds will be provided for participants to apply their preferred technique(s). These will be patched to together to make a ‘chogappo’ (a Korean wrapper traditionally made of fabric).
참가자들은 각자 종이 한 장에 자신의 관조적인 내면 여정을 그려내게 될 것입니다. 참가자들이 각자 선호하는 테크닉에 따라 다른 크기와 종류의 종이가 제공될 것입니다. 완성된 참가자들의 종이는 모두 덧대어져 ‘조각보’로 만들어 지게 됩니다.
As we create, we will think of human right violations, violence and abuses that have caused many wounds and suffering among people -– particularly women in Korea – and other countries. The violence can come from outside forces or from within. In recent years, I have come to know about the Korean democratic struggle, as well as learn about the many people who lost their lives in protests in Taiwan, Tibet, and many other places in the world. My heart has been aching for women who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese troops during World War II in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, China, and Indonesia.
작업을 하면서 인권 침해, 폭력, 그리고 학대를 통해 사람들이 받은 많은 상처와 고통을 되돌아볼 수 있는 시간이 되었으면 좋겠습니다.
폭력은 외부나 내부 어디서나 일어날 수 있습니다. 저는 최근 한국의 민주화 투쟁에 대해 알게 되었고, 대만, 티베트, 그리고 세계 여러 곳에서 일어난 시위에 목숨을 잃은 많은 사람들에 대해서도 알게 되었습니다. 세계 2차 대전 중 성 노예로 일본 군대에 끌려간 한국, 일본, 대만, 필리핀, 중국, 인도네시아의 많은 여성들에 의해 마음이 너무 아팠습니다.
These situations have been repeated throughout human history and in every part of the world. Why do we destroy and wound fellow humans rather than coexisting peacefully and respecting one another’s cultures? The current world feels chaotic – caused by strong forces of greed, where many of us feel overwhelmed, in despair, and heartbroken. I am one of them.
또 이러한 상황은 인류 역사와 세계 각처에서 늘 반복되어 왔습니다. 왜 우리는 평화롭게 공존하고 서로의 문화를 존중하기보다는 서로를 파괴하고 상처를 입히는 걸까요? 많은 사람들이 강한 힘에 의해 압도당하고 절망하고 비통한 심경을 통해 현재 세계는 혼란스럽게 느껴 집니다. 저도 그들과 같습니다.
Being open-hearted amidst this chaos may be challenging. However, I believe we can find courage to counteract this situation by doing inner reflective work and to make something heart-full and meaningful.
이 혼란 속에서 마음을 트는 것은 어려운 일일지도 모르겠습니다, 그러나 저는 우리가 내면을 들여다보는 작업을 통해 진심 어리고 의미 있는 것을 만듦으로써 세상에서 일어나는 일들에 반성할 수 있는 용기를 찾을 수 있음을 믿습니다.
The reason I am offering this workshop with Korean friends comes from my growing knowledge of the tragedy and pain caused by my ancestors that continues to the present day. Using Korean and Japanese handmade papers is an inspiration that came to my mind one night. It symbolises reconciliation, peace, sharing empathy and love. Handmade papers are also a symbol of sustainability and peace as they do not destroy the natural environment nor people’s minds, unlike our exploitive economic system.
제가 친구들과 이번 워크샵을 진행하게 된 이유는 오늘날 까지 이어지고 있는 선조들의 비극과 고통에 대해 커져 가는 저의 관심에 의해 비롯되었습니다. 어느 날 밤 문득 한지와 일본 핸드메이드 종이를 같이 섞어서 사용하게 되는것이 제 영감이 되었습니다. 각 나라에 종이를 함께 사용하는 자체는 화해 와 평화, 공감과 사랑을 상징합니다. 손으로 직접 공정한 종이는 공장에서 만들어지는 종이와 달리 자연환경이나 노동 착취되는 노동자들의 마음을 파괴하지 않기 때문에 지속 가능성과 평화를 상징하기도 합니다.
+ 동아시아 평화를 기원하는 +
+ 종이조각보 워크샵 + 딮-리스닝 세션 +
+ 이하야 토모요 작가 미니전시 +
<Paths : Over Hundreds of Rivers>
종이조각보 워크숍
2019.11/12(화) 19:00~ : : 시민과 함께
2019.11/13(수) 14:00~ : : 천안지역 이주여성과 함께
2019.11/14(목) 14:00~ : : 시민과 함께
@천안 북카페 산새

Blue Protesters in Gwangju 1980 are still walking.

I see brutal pictures of victims injured by excessive violence of police force almost everyday on social media. My heart aches.

These blue spirits of protesters are drawn for the animated video 'City of Light', which was produced this year with theme of the well known democratic movement that happened in Gwangju, Republic of Korea in 1980.  Many students and civilians lost their lives while standing up for their rights of freedom and democracy.

I overlap these blue sprits with fellow humans who are standing up for their own rights at this moment.  I also thought of fellow humans who died or imprisoned in the past.

The situation that violates human rights happening all over the world.  Human realm seems to have lost sanity.  When we need more sustainability, empathy and co-existing,  a strong force of greed and power seems to keep abusing other human beings and exploiting the whole world.

What can we, who are on the safer side, do to stop this? 

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
-Paul Gauguin

24 October 2019

Remember Sonam Dargye March 17 2012

For Sonam Dargye, a 44 yr old farmer, who carried out a self immolation protest on March 17 2012 in the town of Rongpo, Rebkon, Amdo, Tibet.

He set himself on fire in the middle of the street in Rongpo town. While his body still aflame, hundreds of Tibetans gather around according to a video footage that came out to the exile side.

He was a father of three.

Three days earlier, Jamyang Palden, a monk from Rongpo gompa, also self immolated himself.

Following their passings,  thousands of Tibetans in Rebkong area gathered to offer prayer vigils.

26 September 2019

Gwanju Diary - Into Blue @ Visual Space Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Compassionate Empathy 2 共苦2

I feel your pain.  Ninjye - a Tibetan word to express compassionate empathy.

How many are weeping at this moment?
How many in pain?
How many in deep sorrow?
How many on the dark edge of fear?

How many  can reach out from heart?  Each other. One another.  Holding.

To all forms of living beings.

To the mother earth.

Compassionate Empathy 1 共苦1

Note:  there is no particular gender in these figures.  Spirit to spirit, soul to soul and mind to mind.  Up to your imagination. 

Snow Mountain 雪山よ

Snow Mountain
If you do not stand up like a human of dignity,
You are just an useless highest peak.
Do not stay lying down,
Stand up at the bottom.
If you have to shoot me to death,
Shoot my head.
Do not shoot my heart.
I have my love in my heart. 

(Anonymous Tibetan in exile)



This poem was introduced by Ms. Liu, who has lived in Japan for many years and is known as a translator of a few Tsering Woeser's books in Japanese.  She has translated and published 'Kora' by Tibetan writer/poet/activist Tenzin Tsundue this year.  This poem came with her letter with the book. 

It stuck in my heart for 5 months while my away in India, Taiwan, Japan and Korea this spring to early summer. Now it is autumn and finally the image came up to me in layers on top of the poem. 

People who passed cold snowy mountains at night to cross the border.  

The 17 years old girl who was shot by the Chinese border police.

The method of an execution of a person on death row, which I learned in one country. 
The executer marks dotted circle on the back of the person where his heart is and shoot the spot. 

A dream, yearning and love disappear in a second.  A heart breaks and a precious life ends. 

Despite there are fellow humans in the world who decide to stand up for freedom and dignity.
They do not give up.  

What is to live?  

5 June 2019

Remembering Ven. Palden Gyatso

To remember Gen Palden Gyasto la, who passed away on November 30, 2018 in Dharamsala.

He, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, is known to be the prisoner of conscience who had served the longest (33 years) term of any Tibetan political prisoner in Chinese prisons and labour camps.

I had never met him in person, however, always held deep respect him for his strength and courage to the world to talk about his painful experience to help others in the same situation.

I had wanted to draw him when I heard the news of his passing in 2018.  I was deeply saddened however felt a relief he did not have to go through pain anymore in this life time.

I could not start drawing somehow so I kept carrying a piece of paper whenever I travelled to, till now.

Completed in Gwangju, Korea, where over a thousand people suffered from the same kind of pain for the same reason.  May he come back as a brilliant being again without any suffering.

I know that it was beyond my ability to express the depth of his eyes. 

Note:  I really love the photo of Gen la on the right. I draw this drawing from this photo but do not know the photographer name.
Please let me know if you know.  I would like to leave a credit here.