Tattoos of Tibetan Refugees: Babs


Babs is in his early 20s, he was born in Lhasa, and escaped to in 1995 when he was only seven. He has more tattoos than most of his friends: ‘No Pain No Gain’ on his forearm, his school room number and a woman on his upper arm, an ‘Om’ symbol on his arm and neck, and his nickname on his left forearm – most were done by his friend with a machine.

When Babs was 18, he saw a movie about Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, he liked Tupac’s ‘No Pain No Gain’ tattoo and had one done as well. He likes rock music, and cites Green Day and My Chemical Romance as two of his favorite bands.

Babs has only two relatives in India, his sister and uncle, neither are fond of his tattoos, they think he looks like a thug, his family in Tibet does not know about them.

Babs wants to return to Tibet to see his family, “I have some of my relatives who are political prisoners. My aunt, Ani Phuntsok Nyidon was jailed (because of her involvement in the political activities). She recorded a music cassette in prison, she was one of the ‘singing nuns’ in Gutsa detention center, so she was arrested three times. At the end she became physically very weak (due to the tortures in the prison) and she was hospitalized. Another relative of mine, also a nun, was arrested for the same reason. She went to Lhasa to protest and she was arrested. She was later released with a very critical condition due to torture in the prison. She is basically paralyzed and lying at home being taken care of by my family members. They say all her inner organs were damaged. So there is nothing much to do now.”

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