Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Vietnamese Research: Monk Suicides and Protests by Elizabeth

        During the Vietnam Era, a majority of people in Vietnam were Buddhist – about 70-90% of the population. However, power was held by the Catholics, because the president happened to be in the Catholic minority. He implemented policies that favored Catholics and he persecuted Buddhists. Buddhists were being seriously oppressed, and many Buddhist monks and nuns were being detained by the South Vietnamese Catholic regime. This detainment was called the “Buddhist Crisis,” and many Buddhists protested. In May of 1963, although the Catholic regime frequently flew the Vatican flag, the Buddhists were no longer allowed to fly the Buddhist flag. A South Vietnamese group of soldiers opened fire on a group of Buddhists who were carrying the Buddhist flag. There was no longer religious equality in Vietnam. Many Buddhist protests followed this act of violence against Buddhists, especially in Saigon. On June 10, 1963, it was made known that something important was to come the next day. On June 11, 1963, in the presence of a few reporters who listened to the notice given the day before, there was a Buddhist protest in Saigon. The Buddhists were demanding religious equality and were demanding to have the same rights as the Catholics. One particular Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, burned himself alive in protest. This self-immolation was him committing suicide and sacrificing himself in the name of his Buddhist beliefs. It was important because knowledge of this act, particularly in the press, spread rapidly. With it also spread emotion. Photos of the self-immolation were front page of newspapers worldwide. This act of suicide by Duc caused President Kennedy to review his Vietnam policy and send more troops.

A colored photo of Thich Quang Duc during his self-immolation


  1. I didn't know that 90% of the Vietnamese population was Buddhist, and the communists in power were catholic. This explains a lot of the media attention and images that came out of Vietnam at the time. I never really understood what the portrayed image signified or meant, but now it all makes sense.

  2. I have seen this image before but never knew the story behind it. I cannot believe that Thich Quang Duc would do this in order to show his faith to his Buddhist God. This image is mind-blowing, he looks so at peace with everything even while doing something that is so painful.

  3. Its amazing that his beliefs were so strong that he was willing to sacrifice himself. I think it is really messed up how they were not allowed to exercise their own beliefs in their own country. As a president, he should not have had the authority to take away their religious freedoms.

  4. It is honestly mind blowing that people set themselves on fire for what they believe in. He sat there an endured that pain to show people how much he believes in his faith. People continue to die all around the world for practicing their religion.


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