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Lesson #61: 50th Anniversary of Iconic Buddhist Monk Self-Immolation


On June 11, 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, set himself on fire at a busy intersection in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City today) in South Vietnam.

Photographer Malcolm Browne was working on assignment for AP and took this picture of the Buddhist monk sitting lotus style as he doused himself with gasoline and quietly meditated as he burned to death.

Browne is the only western reporter to have photographed this first and most famous act of self-immolation. The sequence of images (see below) that he captured were quickly distributed throughout the world, spreading shock waves and raising awareness of the persecution against Buddhist monks by the US-allied Diem regime in South Vietnam.

Browne went on to win the World Press Photo of the Year award in 1963 as well as the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1964.

(Courtesy ABC News)


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