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South Vietnamese Authorities Crack Down Hard on Buddhists

July 17, 1963 - President Ngo Dinh Diem’s government cracked down hard today on Buddhist street demonstrations in a church-state struggle that is complicating the American-backed war against Communist guerrillas in South Vietnam. Scores were arrested. American security officers said there was deliberate police brutality that shocked and disgusted them. Riot police, plainclothesmen, and steel-helmeted troops used clubs, rifle butts, and boots in breaking up the march by more than 1,000 Buddhists to the Xa Loi pagoda. U.S. Embassy officials rescued a monk threatened with detention by Vietnamese police after he made a trip from his pagoda to appeal to Ambassador Frederick Nolting Jr. for American help. The courier, Le Van Hoa, delivered a letter to Nolting from the Buddhist Association complaining of police brutality against innocent civilians and asking the U.S. government to intercede. When the monk left the Embassy, three plainclothes policemen tried to whisk him away in a cab. The monk evaded them and ran back toward the Embassy. Near the gate, a uniformed policeman grabbed him. An American official intervened, dragging along both the monk and the policeman. A U.S. Marine guard peeled the policeman from the monk’s back.


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