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.

29 May 2016

Remember Tenzin Choedron - February 11 2012

For Tenzin Choedron, a 18 years old nun from Mame Dechen Nunnery, who self immolated in Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet on February 11 2012.

She carried out her protest early in the evening on February 11, shouting slogans against the Chinese government.  Where she chose to do the protest was the same place - the Sumdo Bridge area below the nunnery - as the fellow nun, Tenzin Wangmo, had set herself on fire on October 17 2011.
She passed away soon afterwards.

She was the eldest of four brothers and sisters.  She spoke little, followed the rules, studied hard, and got excellent grades.

She smiles gently and shyly in the photo of her, which came out to the exile side.  It is hard to imagine how this young person made this extreme decision.  One can only  that she must have grown her deep concerns for her country's and others' sufferings in her pure and resilient heart after experiencing harsh treatments to fellow nuns and Tibetan people.

Mame nunnery is the largest one in the area.  The group of nuns of brave hearts carried out a protest march in 2008, carrying a portrait of the Dalai Lama, after which many were detained.