October 25, 2011
Buddhist monks burn themselves in protesting Chinese oppression
If you don’t know the name Thich Quang Duc, you know the image of the Buddhist monk’s death. I learned it as a kid when I got the self-titled Rage Against the Machine album. The above video shows the monk protesting the policies of the Catholic Diem that controlled South Vietnam in 1963. He did so by setting himself on fire.
That is the iconic image of self-immolation as protest. But Buddhist monks in China have brought it back. Nine young Buddhist have killed themselves this way as a protest against Chinese oppression of Tibet.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
This is a major religion and geopolitical story. The Dalai Lama is not only the head of Tibetan Buddhism but also is the exiled leader of Tibet. That monks dedicated to his teachings would defy it in protesting Chinese oppression demonstrates a disconnect in belief that could have political consequences. Hopefully those “consequences” will be good for Tibet and bad for China.