Xu, the legal scholar, went a significantly riskier step further, attempting to visit the family of a self-immolator named Nangdrol in tightly controlled Aba prefecture in October.
‘‘I am sorry we Han Chinese have been silent as Nangdrol and his fellow Tibetans are dying for freedom,’’ Xu wrote in the op-ed piece published by The New York Times last month. ‘‘We are victims ourselves, living in estrangement, infighting, hatred and destruction. We share this land. It’s our shared home, our shared responsibility, our shared dream — and it will be our shared deliverance.’’
For the artist Liu, who is half Han, half Manchu and a follower of Tibetan Buddhism, there is a personal and spiritual element to his project.
‘‘When I'm painting them, I always feel that I am receiving blessings. I become gentler, kinder,’’ Liu said of the portraits. ‘‘These people are not attacking other people, they are completely sacrificing themselves.’’
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