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Self-immolations during the Vietnam War

by Ed Sawicki 2017

Protests over the Vietnam War included people making the ultimate statement. They killed themselves by lighting themselves on fire - a process called self-immolation. The photo is of Buddist monk Thích Quảng Đức self-immolation in Saigon in 1963. He was the first of many.

Thich Quang Duc self-immolation
Thích Quảng Đức self-immolation

 

I offer my body as a torch
to dissipate the dark
to waken love among men
to give peace to Vietnam
(the one who burns herself for peace)

by Nhat Chi Mai 1967

This is a list of all those who self-immolated because of the Vietnam War. I couldn't find information about most of them on the Internet. I had to go back to the newspapers published at the time.

Jun 11, 1963 Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức
Aug 4, 1963 Buddhist monk Thích Mguyen Huong
Aug 13, 1963 Buddhist monk Thích Thanh Tuck
Aug 15, 1963 Buddhist nun Dieti Quảng
Aug 16, 1963 Buddhist monk Thích Tieu
Mar 26, 1965 Alice Herz in Detroit
Oct 12, 1965 Hiroko Hayasaki
Nov 2, 1965 Norman Morrison in Washington DC
Nov 9, 1965 Celene Jankowski in South Bend, Indiana
Nov 9, 1965 Roger Allen LaPorte in New York City
May 28, 1966 Buddhist nun Thích Nữ Thanh Quảng
May 28, 1966 Buddhist woman Ho Thi Thieu
May 28, 1966 Buddhist nun Thích Nữ Vinh Ngoc
May 31, 1966 Buddhist woman Nguyen Thi Van
Jun 4, 1966 Buddhist nun Thích Nữ Dien Dinh
Jun 4, 1966 Buddhist nun Thích Nữ Bao Luan
May 3, 1967 Le Thai Cuc in Saigon
May 16, 1967 Buddhist nun Nhất Chi Mai in Saigon
Oct 3, 1967 Buddhist nun Thích Nữ Tri in Saigon
Oct 15, 1967 Florence Beaumont in Los Angeles
Oct 22, 1967 Buddhist nun Thích Nữ Hue
Nov 1, 1967 Buddhist nun Thích Nữ Thuong
Nov 12, 1967 Yui Chunoshin
Dec 4, 1967 Erik Thoen
Mar 1, 1968 Pham Van Qui in Saigon
Mar 19, 1968 Ronald Brazee in Syracuse, NY
Apr 1968 Shirakawa Kazuo
Oct 1968 Steve Sexton
May 11, 1970 George Winne Jr. in San Diego

Self-immolation is still used today by Tibetans protesting the occupation of their country by China.

Not all suicides to protest the Vietnam War were by self-immolation. New Jersey teenagers Craig Badiali and Joan Fox killed themselves on October 16, 1969 via asphyxiation from car exhaust.

Craig Badiali and Joan Fox
Craig Badiali and Joan Fox

Sources

  1. Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War
  2. Activism Through the Years (Daily Bruin - UCLA)
  3. They Who Burned Themselves for Peace: Quaker and Buddhist Self-Immolators during the Vietnam War
  4. CNN: US airman dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington