On June 16th 1963 a Buddhist monk by the name of Thich Quang Duc (pic above) immolated himself in Saigon. Qunag Duc was protesting religious persecution under Vietnam’s Diem regime. He did not immolate himself as a protest against the Vietnam war as some people think.
What Quang Duc did in South Vietnam is so similar to what Mohammad Bouazeezi did in Tunisia last month. Vast demonstrations swept across South Vietnam calling for the downfall of the regime.
U.S.A and Self-Immolation
The first reported act of self immolation in the 20th century took place on Nov 3rd 1963. When a 31 years old Norman Morrison self immolated in front of Robert McNamara’s office. Morrison committed this act because he was against the bombing of a village in Northern Vietnam and he couldn’t see the purpose of killing innocent villagers.
Another American is Roger Allen LaPorte who self immolated in front of the U.N building in New York City on Nov 9th 1963. He was 21 years old, a Catholic and against the Vietnam War. The New York Times wrote the next day “Man, 22, Immolates Himself In Antiwar Protest at U.N.” the article said that burns covered 95% of his body, and he died in a coma 33 hours later.
May 11, 1970, twenty-three-year-old George Winne Jr. immolated himself on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. He left a sign saying “In the Name of God, stop the war”.
Europe and Self Immolation
Romas Kalanta self-immolated as a protest against Russia (Soviet Union) occupying Lithuania. This triggered a student uprising in Kaunas.
On 8 September 1968 Polish lawyer and former soldier of Armia Krajowa Ryszard Siwiec burned himself during official communist ceremony on main stadium of Warsaw, Poland protesting against Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia in August 1968.
Five months later, in January 1969, from the same reason Jan Palach immolated himself in Prague to protest against the recent Soviet military backlash against the reform socialist “Prague Spring” movement.
2003 In just over a month six people have set themselves on fire in the Czech Republic, with four dying and two suffering severe burns. Most of the cases were in Prague. According to suicide notes the reason was a depression from contemporary situation in the world.
Asia and Self Immolation On April 7, 1989, the pro-Taiwan independence publisher Cheng Nan-jung self-immolated rather than submitting himself to arrest for having published a draft of the Republic of Taiwan constitution. His action was soon followed by the self-immolation of another activist during Cheng’s funeral procession.
In the 1990s several Korean students also chose to self-immolate in the waves of mass protests against the country’s then authoritarian government.
During the trial of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, one person in Sargodha self-immolated.
The Mohamed Bouazizi Effect
After this young man self immolated and cause the “Jasmine Revolution”… which he sadly died before seeing the consequences of his act on a country. So far I can think of 10 people who have self immolated in the past few days starting Jan 15th- Jan 18th …
Mohsen Bouterfif – Algerian – Jan 15th 2010 – died on Jan 16th 2010
Aouichia Mohammad – Algerian – Jan 15th 2010
Boubacar Boyden – Algerian – Jan 15th 2010
Mamier Lotfi - Algerian – Jan 16th 2010
Senouci Touat- Algerian – Jan 16th 2010
Yacoub Ould Dahoud- Mauritanian – Jan 17th 2010
Abdou Abdel-Moneim Jaafar- Egyptian – Jan 17th 2010
Mohammed Farouk Hassan- Egyptian – Jan 18th 2010
Ahmed Hashim El-Sayyid- Egyptian – Jan 18th 2010 died on Jan 18th 2010