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.

7 March 2015

Thinking of Tapey and March 10th

Tapey, a monk from Kirti monastery in Ngaba, Amdo, is the first person who self immolated in Tibet.

On February 27th, 2009, he doused himself with oil, walked alone from the monastery to the crossroads in the market area of the town, and set himself on fire.

It is said that he was carrying a home made Tibetan flag that had at its centre a photograph of the Dalai Lama.

While shouting slogans, People's Armed Police force arrived and opened fire on him.
He fell the ground.

So many monks, nuns, young, old, fathers, and mothers, have followed him in Ngaba up till now.  people say  Ngaba is a land of the beautiful green pasture, yet, green grass has absorbed countless tears and blood of people.

I tried to feel Tapey's mind when he was making his country's banned flag in his room.  What a important meaning it must have had to him.  Yearning for freedom? Determination to show his dignity to the enemy?

March 10th is the anniversary of the Tibetan uprising in Lhasa in 1959.  Thousands of people had ringed the walls of the Norbulingka palace -summer residence of the Dalai Lamas to protect H.H. Dalai Lama the 14th and to show solidarity against Chinese Communist Party's rule. This lead to the major uprising in Lhasa on March 20th and in a few days, it is said ten thousands to fifteen thousands of Tibetan people were killed.  On this day, around the world, except in Tibet, many protest marches take place and streets are covered with Tibetan flags.