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 May 2015

For Sangye Tso

For Sangye Tso, 36 yrs old, who self immolated in Choparashing, Chone County, Amdo, Tibet on May 27 2015.

She, a mother of two, carried out her self-immolation around 4 am in front of a Chinese security  and re-education building located within the compound of Choparshing monastery.

The monastery has been under intense pressure including arrests of monks and applying fines for having peaceful protests.  The large buildings that house security and propaganda workers had been actually built inside the monastery's walled compound to watch activities of monks.

These suppressive actions of the Chinese authorities have deeply hurt and humiliated the local Tibetans who see them as attacks against Tibetan culture and religion, and that the sense of injustice and helplessness felt by many may have been what drove Sangye Tso to carry out her desperate protest.

20 May 2015

For Tenzin Gyatso

For Tenzin Gyatso, 35 yrs old, who self immolated on May 20 2015 in the Khangsar twonship of Tawu county, Ganzi Kham.

He carried out his protest around 8 pm near a bridge close to official government buildings in Khangsar.
While he was burning, security personnel stationed in the area rushed to put out the fire and took him away.

He is survived by his wife and four children.

I keep thinking of the bridge near where he set himself on fire.

Broken bridges.  Rebuild them.  Cross again.  

13 May 2015

Remember Tsewang Norbu - August 15 2011

For Tsewang Norbu, 29 yrs old monk from Nyitso Monastery, who self immolated on August 15 2015 in Tawu County, Kardze, Kham, Tibet.  He is the 3rd person who self immolated in Tibet since 2009.

He drank petrol before setting himself on fire and died on site while calling for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

The Chinese state media confirmed the death of a Buddhist monk shortly afterwards, with Xinhua stating: "It was unclear why he had burnt himself".

For Tibetans, it was clear why he had burnt himself.