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.

27 July 2015

For Tenzin Delek Rinpoche - thousands eyes are shedding tears

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly respected Tibetan religious leader, was held in prison for over 13 years, serving a life sentence for a crime that he did not commit.  In another word, he was innocent.

On July 13th, he passed away in the prison, in believed-to-be poor health condition.

Further more, the local authority ignored family and local people's wish to have his body returned so as they can have proper prayer ceremonies.  Instead his body was cremated in the remote detention center, as if they wanted to erase all the evidences of their ill treatments to his body over years.   Only ashes were returned to his sister and family.

He was somebody whom many thousands of people kept in their hearts and who dedicated his life to
keep his culture alive, to promote education, and to help people.   He was a hope and a lamp to shine the darkness in suppressed lives of people.

Loss. Injustice. Sadness.

10 July 2015

For Kusho Sonam Topgyal July 9 2015

For Sonam Topgyal, 26 years old monk, who set himself on fire in Kyegudo, Kham, Tibet on July 9th 2015.

A few photos of him engulfed in flames on the paved square, some people standing near by, came out to the exile place first.  His name, age, and hometown came out later. No further details did not reach due to the immediate shut down of means of communications to outside.

In the photos, he has his hands in prayer, almost clasping.

By standers took him to the hospital, however, his condition is unknown.

This happened 3 days after H.H. Dalai Lama's 80th birthdays.  It felt like the whole world was celebrating his birthday and wishing for long life.  Despite of pressure from the local Chinese authorities, many pictures came out from Tibet that Tibetan people inside Tibet are celebrating it by putting up Kundun's photos and making beautiful alters with offerings to them.

Then this sad news came out.  It is heartbreaking to imagine what was on his mind during the celebration and before his protest.

Note:  Further details at present of July 10. Sonam Topgyal is a native of Kham Nangchen, his father's name spells Nangchen Tashi and Bode is of Mother. He has five siblings.
He had been studying for 7 years at Dege Dzongsar Monastery. 

2 July 2015

Remember Choephel and Kayang, October 7 2011

For Choephel, 19 years old and Kayang, 18 years old, who carried out their protest together on the main street in Ngaba county town, Amdo, Tibet, on October 7 2011.

The two young men, former monks from Kirti Monastery, clasped their hands together and set fire on themselves before security personnel extinguished the flames and took the two to the country's government hospital.

The Ngaba area has been under military lockdown since major protests were held in the area following the spread of protests across the Tibetan plateau beginning  in March, 2008.  In one major demonstration in Ngaba in 2008, at least 10 Tibetans were shot dead by security forces.

"Tibetans are deeply religious, and they are willing to pay the ultimate price for their religion and freedom" Zorgyi

"Monks take a vow that says they are not allowed to end their lives. But on the other hand, these actions are not for an individual, they are for a people"  H.H. Karmapa