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.

16 July 2017

For Tenzin Choeying - The Great Ocean called Life July 14 2017

For Tenzin Choeying, 19 years old Tibetan student in exile, who set himself ablaze on July 14 in Varanasi, India.  He carried out his protest at around 9 a.m. in the entrance of a residence hall while calling for freedom for his homeland "Victory to Tibet".

Tenzin is from the Kollegal Tibetan Settlement in South India, and is a student at the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Varanasi.

He is in critical condition with burns over 60 percent of his body and is treated in a hospital in Varanasi.

It is painful to feel his, his parents' , and a whole community's pain.  It is truly heartbreaking to witness so many fellow brothers and sisters, including young people like him, choosing to take an extremely painful form of protest like this because of a strong sense of injustice and urge for freedom.
And many of us stand with heavy heart at a loss, even though many of us wish for the better world for them, us, and all.

I want him to live.  It may be a painful path of recovery, but I wish him to keep living fully in the Great Ocean called life.