On June 10th of 1963, a Buddhist monk named Thích Quảng Đức set himself on fire during a march protesting the prosecution of Buddhists in South Vietnam. The pictures that were taken that day by journalists made international news, and became a worldwide known image, creating controversy. Thích Quảng Đức’s death, which painted him as a matryr, put pressure on the prime minister of South Vietnam to add reform acts to appease Buddhists. The reform acts were not enacted, and the army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces, who were loyal to the prime minister and his anti-Buddhist beliefs, launched raids in Buddhist pagodas, which led to deaths of other individuals who identified as Buddhists. As a result, other Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. Eventually, the prime minister was assassinated, and the persecution of Buddhists ceased.
The American president at the time, John F. Kennedy, said, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.” Overall, many Americans viewed the picture as a tragic, yet honorable event that promoted using extreme actions to make a statement. However, that is not the undisputed consensus. South Vietnamese individuals, some Buddhist monks, debated on whether or not Thích Quảng Đức’s death was beneficial. As a result of his death, many other Buddhists were murdered by army of the Republic of Vietname Special Forces, or became inspired to immolate themselves. His immolation sparked many other immolations in South Vietname, and in the rest of the world.
Overall, history from every country learned is focused on different aspects of any event, including this event. While some may praise Thích Quảng Đức’s action and see him as a matryr, some view his action as mostly negative due to the reprecusions such as the raids of Buddhist pagodas and the multiple deaths of Buddhists.
Nakhoda, Z. (2010, April 19). South Vietnamese Buddhists initiate fall of dictator Diem, 1963. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/south-vietnamese- buddhists-initiate-fall-dictator-diem-1963
R. (2015, June 23). The burning monk, 1963. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/the-burning-monk-1963/