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Seventh South Vietnamese Buddhist Kills Self in Protest Suicide

Oct. 27, 1963 - A Buddhist monk burned himself to death in front of Saigon’s main Roman Catholic Cathedral this morning in protest against the South Vietnamese Government’s alleged persecution of Buddhists. He was the seventh Buddhist to kill himself by burning in the last five months. The suicide took place as a U.N. fact-finding team was visiting a Buddhist pagoda on the other side of the city to investigate the Buddhist community’s charges of religious persecution by the Government of President Ngo Dinh Diem. The monk, not immediately identified, died a flaming death as Sunday churchgoers drove past a few feet away on their way to the Cathedral across the square in the center of Saigon. He arrived at the scene dressed in civilian clothes. He hopped off his motorcycle and quickly squatted lotus-fashion in the street. The motorcycle with its driver drove out of sight. The monk had a container of gasoline and emptied it into his lap. Then, he struck a match. With the fire enveloping his body, the monk bowed and raised his arms two or three times in prayer. A horrified crowd gathered quickly around him, some falling on their knees and prostrating themselves before him. Policemen rushed up, but as they moved toward the fiery figure of the monk, some of the onlookers started shouting and shoving the policemen away. One policeman broke through, waving a straw mat in an effort to blow out the flames. He only fanned the flames higher. A woman grabbed the policeman by the arm and pulled him back. Later, firemen turned extinguishers on the body. Police covered it with a cloth and took it away in the back of a police jeep.


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