Vietnamese Buddhist self-immolation
On this day in 1963, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc, committed self-immolation in Saigon.
Self-immolation was held to protest against the persecution of Buddhism in South Vietnam during the reign of President Ngo Dinh Diem (1955-1963). The president professed Catholicism, which in Vietnam was much inferior to the popularity of Buddhism, since 90% of the population of Vietnam were Buddhists.
However, the total spread of Buddhism did not prevent the president to lead the discriminatory policy. Catholics receive priority for appointment to positions of responsibility, village communities violently has been accessed to Catholicism, encouraged looting and destruction of Buddhist temples.
David Halberstam, a reporter for the New York Times covering the war in Vietnam, gave the following account:
I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think…. As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.