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.

31 July 2017

For Passan Dhondup ( Dhondup Denu) July 29 2017

For Passan Dhondup,  49 yrs old, who self immolated near Lhagyal-Ri ( Lingkor), McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India on July 29th 2017.

Passan was from Gyaltse in Shigatse, Tibet.  He arrived in India in 1991 and had lived in Dharamsala.  He was a wood painter at Norbulingka Institute since 2012.

Lingkor is a path that circulates below where the main temple and where H.H. Dalai Lama's resident  are on the tip of McLeod Ganj.   Many Tibetan people go there to do circumambulation in the early morning and evening while reciting prayers.  It is an important ritual to do so and many walk on the path every day to send prayers. The path is adorned with many prayer flags and surrounded with rush green and trees.

One witness heard him raising slogans 'long life to Gyalwa Rinpoche' while in flame. Others noticed him in flame, tried to get help, but it was too late to rescue him.

He came alone all the way from Shigatse, lived alone in the foreign land, and decided to do his lone protest on the path of prayers.