Basically, in the mid 1950s Ngô Đình Diệm rigged the election in south Vietnam and proclaimed that he was president. The U.S. supported this dude because he was anti-communist. Under his ‘rule’ a bunch of communists were rounded up and killed or imprisoned. Diem was also Catholic and not happy that 90% of Vietnam was Bhuddist. So he instigated a large number of discriminatory policies against Bhuddists, such as forced labor, increased taxes, reduced aid. Stuff like that & worse. Well, the U.S. continued to support this guy because he did what they wanted and they didn’t feel too worried about the religious discrimination. The Vietcong formed and began to start a civil war against Diem and they had a lot of support. Thich Quang Duc was a Bhuddist monk who saw what was happening and he knew it was wrong. He knew that there was no hope for South Vietnam if it remained so divided. He recognized that fighting against his countrymen for peace was absurd. So, in order to make his message ‘we can’t be successful if we persecute one another’ and ‘compassion and sacrifice are better than fighting’ be heard, he volunteered to self immolate in front of the Cambodian embassy in Saigon. His message though, was about the Vietnam war and every other war, it was about conflict, religious equality, acceptance, love, understanding, peace, and proving that he meant what he said, that peace is worth dying for.
Here is what he had to say before his death:
“Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngo Dinh Diem to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally. I call the venerables, reverends, members of the sangha and the lay Buddhists to organise in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.”
The BBC page has an excellent witness report: The Death of Thich Quang Duc
December 20, 2013 | Categories: History, Photography, Pursuit of Happiness, The Politics of Cultural Destruction | Tags: Act of protest, Buddhism, Buddhist, Buddhist Monk, Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc, Buddhist rights, Death, Fire, History, horrifying, human history, Method of death, Photo, Photography, Protest, Rights, sad, self immolation, Thich Quang Duc, Vietnam, Vietnam war, vietnamese, War, War Photographer, Warfare | Leave a comment