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Another Buddhist Monk Burns Himself To Death

Oct. 5, 1963 - The political and religious crisis in South Vietnam deepened today when another Buddhist monk burned himself to death — the sixth such suicide since June 11. U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, who is known to feel that the Buddhist crisis jeopardizes the U.S.-backed war against the Communist Viet Cong, called an immediate conference of U.S. staff members. A spokesman said Mr. Lodge was shocked by the suicide and deeply concerned about its political implications. The monk who killed himself appeared to be in his early twenties. Seated in the street, he doused his brown robes with gasoline and lit a match. Three minutes later, he toppled over dead. A leaflet tossed into the yard of Vietnamese intelligence headquarters identified him as Quang Huong. Troops and uniformed police, using tactics applied sporadically since the outbreak of the crisis in bloody rioting at Hue last May 8, immediately sealed off the heart of the city with tanks, armored cars, and wire barricades. Telephone calls at 11:30 a.m. had informed news agencies that “something may happen at the central market at noon.” Six newsmen set out to check. The shaven-headed young monk drove up in a taxicab to the market’s traffic circle at 12:30 p.m. He walked a few steps, squatted down with legs crossed in the Buddhist lotus blossom fashion, emptied a gasoline can he had carried in a rubber bag, and lit the match. He winced and grimaced briefly as the flames engulfed him. But he maintained his posture of erect serenity, with his arms raised stiffly before him, until his charred and blackened body toppled to the pavement. The suicide came just four days after the departure from Saigon of a military mission that President Kennedy sent to South Vietnam to survey the progress of the war.


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