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Buddhist Monk Sets Self on Fire in Saigon

June 11, 1963 - An elderly Buddhist monk calmly put a match to his gasoline-drenched yellow robes at a main street intersection in Saigon today and burned to death before hundreds of watching Vietnamese. The victim, Quang Duc, was protesting alleged persecution of Buddhists by President Ngo Dinh Diem’s Government. The grisly demonstration was the latest in a wave of Buddhist protests against the South Vietnamese Government. The Buddhists demand guarantees of religious freedom and social justice. The Government, which is dominated by Roman Catholics, denies it has discriminated against any religion. Today’s incident began in a Saigon pagoda with an hour-long memorial service for the eight victims of a bloody demonstration in the central Vietnam city of Hue on May 8. After the monks and nuns completed their chanting, they filed silently into the street. Quan Duc seated himself in the middle of the intersection, and two monks drenched him with gasoline. Quan Duc’s followers then stepped back, and he calmly set fire to himself. He sat silently for several minutes. Then, with the flames still flickering, he toppled backward. Crowds of men, women, and children wept behind police barricades.


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