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 August 2015

For Tashi Kyi, August 27 2015

For Tashi Kyi, who self immolated in Kahlho, Amdo, Tibet on August 27 2015.  She passed away from her burns around 3 am on August 28th.  The police arrived in the morning and forcibly took away her body from the family.

On 27th, before her protest, she witnessed 150 officials and security personnel arrived in her village to claim official rights on a house an demolished the property.  The owner of the property and villagers protested, only to result beating and detention of the owner by security force.

This may have made her decide to carry out the self immolation protest to express her agony towards the injustice.

She was a mother of 5 children.

21 August 2015

Remember Norbu Damdrul, October 15 2011

For Norbu Damdrul, a 19 year old former monk at Kirti monastery, who set fire to himself on October 15th 2011 in Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet.

He walked on the main street in Ngaba county town while raising slogans "We need freedom and independence for Tibet" and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

He was still alive when police stationed on the street extinguished the flames and kicked Norbu's body before taking him away.

A large crowd of Tibetans who had gathered at the scene was dispersed at gunpoint by security personnel.

This was a week after Choephel and Kayang, also former monks at Kirti monastery, died in this non violence protest in Ngaba.

6 August 2015

Please give me water

Each year August 6th is a heart-sensitive day.  It is one of the great tragedies of human history that by a single blast a group of human beings were able to kill more than one hundred and forty thousand of their fellow humans, as well as countless other living creatures from the natural world. Just by one blast.

In the country I grew up we always kept a minute's silence in the morning at the exact time when the nuclear bomb exploded above Hiroshima. We grew up reading, listening, or watching horrifying episodes of individuals who had been victims. The phrase that I remember the most is 'please give me water'.  This phrase was uttered by people who were burnt and in pain.

This is the day for me to share both pain and hope with everyone - and my thoughts always go over to people who are in war, in prison, in pain and in despair at this moment.

Life is wonderful.  Life is painful. Both come and go. Unavoidable.

I offer water into bowls.  Bowls of mind.  Bowls of heart.  Water permeates each heart and connects each of us in this sphere.  Let's keep water calm and peaceful.