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.

9 November 2015

Remember Dawa Tsering October 25 2011

For Dawa Tsering, a monk from Kartze Monastery, who carried out a self immolation protest on October 25 2011 in Kartze, Kham, Tibet.

He set himself alight and shouted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet during a religious ceremony at the time of a Cham dance.  Hundreds of local people were in attendance.
He was taken back to the monastery to be taken care and monks and laypeople tried to prevent Chinese police from detaining him.

He survived from this protest and the photo of him with his father at home came out to the exile side after less than one year.  The picture showed a gaunt Dawa Tsering with his chine and throat shriveled up with dark patches.

"His future remains unknown and uncertain because he might not be allowed to return back to his monastery. Instead, he could be jailed at any time"

I think of him, wondering how he is now after four years.  I hope he carries light in his heart no matter what struggles he faces.  He is so far away and our hands can not reach him easily.

1 November 2015

Eyes Water Fire

Thousands of Eyes
Shedding tears
Vessels floating
On rough water
Legs crossing glaciers half frozen
In the snow mountains
Keep flames burning to show
That we are here and we have here to live
To reach the light
Tears of light

19 October 2015

"Drawings from Dharamsala" @ The Third Hong Kong Tibet Film & Cultural Festival 2015

52 drawings from 'Drawings from Dharamsala' will be exhibited in Hong Kong as a part of The Third Tibet Film & Cultural Festival 2015. 

Tomoyo Ihaya
"Drawings from Dharamsala"
@Yueh Chiao Art Gallery, Shaw College, CUHK
November 2nd to 11th 2015

Organized by Dorothy Hui Sin Ming, Hong Kong Stand with Tibet, co-operate with Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong . 

以下是所有海報及場刋資料(Posters and Boucher):


Event Page:

破牆特刊(採訪內容,地界及自焚) / 採通(Break Wall Magazine)

西藏處境:(Situation in Tibet)

展覽作品: (Exhibition Art Work)

18 September 2015

Remember Tenzin Wangmo, October 17 2011

For Tenzin Wangmo, a 20 year-old Tibetan nun, who set fire to herself in a protest early afternoon in Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet on October 17 2011.

She called for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet and for religious freedom for about 10 minutes while burning.  She died at the Sumdo bridge, located below her nunnary, Mame Dechen Chokorling Nunnery.

In the painful photo of her body burned down in the grass area,  a few figures of nuns far coming to her can be seen.   They must have been rushing with their hearts aching with sadness.
Police demanded to give her body to them, but nuns rejected and it is said that Tenzin Wangmo's body was cremated in the evening of October.

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. 

27 July 2015

For Tenzin Delek Rinpoche - thousands eyes are shedding tears

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly respected Tibetan religious leader, was held in prison for over 13 years, serving a life sentence for a crime that he did not commit.  In another word, he was innocent.

On July 13th, he passed away in the prison, in believed-to-be poor health condition.

Further more, the local authority ignored family and local people's wish to have his body returned so as they can have proper prayer ceremonies.  Instead his body was cremated in the remote detention center, as if they wanted to erase all the evidences of their ill treatments to his body over years.   Only ashes were returned to his sister and family.

He was somebody whom many thousands of people kept in their hearts and who dedicated his life to
keep his culture alive, to promote education, and to help people.   He was a hope and a lamp to shine the darkness in suppressed lives of people.

Loss. Injustice. Sadness.

10 July 2015

For Kusho Sonam Topgyal July 9 2015

For Sonam Topgyal, 26 years old monk, who set himself on fire in Kyegudo, Kham, Tibet on July 9th 2015.

A few photos of him engulfed in flames on the paved square, some people standing near by, came out to the exile place first.  His name, age, and hometown came out later. No further details did not reach due to the immediate shut down of means of communications to outside.

In the photos, he has his hands in prayer, almost clasping.

By standers took him to the hospital, however, his condition is unknown.

This happened 3 days after H.H. Dalai Lama's 80th birthdays.  It felt like the whole world was celebrating his birthday and wishing for long life.  Despite of pressure from the local Chinese authorities, many pictures came out from Tibet that Tibetan people inside Tibet are celebrating it by putting up Kundun's photos and making beautiful alters with offerings to them.

Then this sad news came out.  It is heartbreaking to imagine what was on his mind during the celebration and before his protest.

Note:  Further details at present of July 10. Sonam Topgyal is a native of Kham Nangchen, his father's name spells Nangchen Tashi and Bode is of Mother. He has five siblings.
He had been studying for 7 years at Dege Dzongsar Monastery. 

2 July 2015

Remember Choephel and Kayang, October 7 2011

For Choephel, 19 years old and Kayang, 18 years old, who carried out their protest together on the main street in Ngaba county town, Amdo, Tibet, on October 7 2011.

The two young men, former monks from Kirti Monastery, clasped their hands together and set fire on themselves before security personnel extinguished the flames and took the two to the country's government hospital.

The Ngaba area has been under military lockdown since major protests were held in the area following the spread of protests across the Tibetan plateau beginning  in March, 2008.  In one major demonstration in Ngaba in 2008, at least 10 Tibetans were shot dead by security forces.

"Tibetans are deeply religious, and they are willing to pay the ultimate price for their religion and freedom" Zorgyi

"Monks take a vow that says they are not allowed to end their lives. But on the other hand, these actions are not for an individual, they are for a people"  H.H. Karmapa