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.

23 June 2015

Remember Kelsang Wangchuk October 3 2011

For Kelsang Wangchuk, a 17 years old monk from Kirti monastery, who self immolated in Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet on October 3 2011.

kelsang carried a photo of the Dalai Lama and was shouting slogans against the Chinese government when he set fire to himself along the main street in Ngaba county town.

Shortly after his protest, additional security forces were deployed in town and at Kirti monastery, increasing an already tense security atmosphere in the area known for its outspoken expression of the Tibetan identity and frequent peaceful protests.

It is said that a few days prior to Kelsang's protest,  pamphlets were distributed and posted around Kirti Monastery and the market place in Ngaba county town which read: If the current security crackdown in the area were to continue, many more people were prepared to give up their lives in protest.

Soon H.H. Dalai Lama will become 80 years old.  There are many pictures online arrived from Tibet that people put up his photo with beautiful offerings, celebrate his birthday openly,and wish for his long life.  While feeling cheered up by seeing photos of Tibetan people in Tibet who show their unshaken devotion and strong spirit,  my thoughts go to these brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives for the better world.  I wish they could come back to this world to celebrate it together after the true peace comes to Tibet and in the world.