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.

20 February 2017

Remember Nangdrol February 19 2012

For Nangdrol, 18 years old, who self immolated on February 19 2012 in Dzamthang county, Ngaba,Tibet. 
He set himself on fire in an area between Barma township and the Jonang Dzamthang Gonchen Monastery,
while shouting "May His Holiness the Dalai Lama live 10,000 years!" and " Freedom for Tibet". 

 His body was taken back to the monastery where traditional rituals were carried out for him.  More than 1000 Tibetans had gathered there to hold a vigil.  

According to Tibetans in the area who are in contact with Tibetans in exile, Nangdrol cared passionately about Tibetan culture and language and had urged fellow Tibetans to be united, and to preserve their cultural and religious identity.  

He left a will behind:

Head raised high with indefatigable loyalty and courage,
I, Nangdrol, call on
My grateful parents,
brothers and relatives,
For the cause of grateful Tibetan people,
By giving up my life to fire,
Men and women of Tibet,
I hope you all will keep unity and harmony;
Wear Tibetan [dress] if you are Tibetan;
Moreover, you must speak Tibetan;
Never forget you are Tibetan;
You must have love and compassion if you are Tibetan;
Have respect for parents;
Have unity and harmony amongst Tibetan;
Be compassionate to animals;

Restrain from taking lives of living beings.