‘Chalk Tibet' is a protest movement that highlights the deaths of Tibetan Buddhist Monks and Nuns who have self-immolated against the Chinese rule of Tibet.
Its message is simple, clear and symbolic. A volunteer lies down in the street; usually in crowded or symbolic places where many people routinely walk through and will be able to see the event. This action in itself begins to raise questions and draw awareness. A second participant then draws an outline of the body on the ground. The effect is worthy of a Hollywood crime scene: body outline splayed across the pavement in chalk.
Within the body is taped or written a message. A memory of the fallen. For example,
"Once again this week, a Tibetan committed self-immolation in Tibet in protest against China's brutal occupation."
A photo is usually taken of the ‘crime scene', which additionally draws more attention to the issue from the public, a head turning drama being played out on the streets and spaces of our cities.
The campaign, it proves, is extremely effective. I managed to discover for myself on the crowded streets of London, following the chalk trail of Tibetan activists from 10 Downing Street to the Chinese embassy.
Crowds gathered in locations such as Piccadilly Circus to get a closer look at the unique spectacle.
The activists performed in style, with outlines of not just one, but, ten outlines to mark those that had self-immolated in protest since March of this year, during the demonstrations of November 2nd2011.
Etched onto the ground in lines, descriptions of the ten Tibetans and their photographs were taped onto the ground where they lay.
As soon as each Tibetan was ‘chalked', the public stopped, stared and gathered. Passers-by came up to me as I photographed the event, asking about what had happened, and the Tibet issue. It was truly an eye-catching campaign.
The message from the Chalk Tibet community is simple:
"Using a simple piece of chalk, let's outline the Tibetan dead in our streets" The campaign has hit the streets globally, and participants eagerly add a growing wealth of photographs of to the Chalk Tibet website, ranging from the streets of Prague to Las Vegas.
Importantly, Chalk Tibet seems fittingly; in the face of suppression, a peaceful non-violent movement which works hand in hand with the ethics of the Tibetan struggle. It is successfully gaining momentum, and has pushed the boundaries of the Tibet issue onto the streets of our cities, and into the hearts and minds of our public.