An art installation by two Dharamshala-based filmmakers has been hidden from public view at the Dhaka Art Summit after China's ambassador to Bangladesh reportedly "exploded as soon as he saw it and asked for the works to be removed immediately or face consequences," reports The Indian Express. The artists concerned, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, have accused China of bullying the organisers of the art summit.
The artwork, titled 'Last Words', pays homage to 149 Tibetans who burned themselves in protest against the Chinese occupation of their country. It comprises letters by five protesters written just before they set themselves aflame.
The installation "had to be covered because the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh (Ma Mingqiang) found the works offensive, during a visit to the summit on Saturday," said Tenzing Sonam. "We were told by the curator (Diana Campbell Betancourt) that he exploded as soon as he saw it and asked the works to be removed immediately or face consequences."
The filmmakers are now back in India, but are in touch with the organisers of the art summit. While Sonam says he understands the position the organisers were placed in, Sarin accused China of bullying them.
"This is bullying," she said. "The Chinese are asking for the works to be removed in a foreign country. We have just taken five letters that are actually available online; it is not even an interpretation."
Sonam said this was not the first time that China had closed down a Tibetan exhibition in Bangladesh. In 2009, it had asked the Bangladesh government to shut down an exhibition titled "Into Exile | Tibet 1949 - 2009" that had been organised by the Students for a Free Tibet, Bangladesh.