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The Burning Monk, 1963

This shocking photograph depicts Quang Duc, a monk who set himself on fire at a busy Saigon road intersection in 1963. He died protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. The regime had made life very difficult for Buddhists, banning them from flying their traditional flag or practicing their beliefs and spiritual exercises. Thus the Buddhists decided that a message had to be sent.
Quang Duc emerged from a car just outside of the Cambodian Embassy, accompanied by two other monks. He calmly sat down in a traditional meditative position while another monk soaked him in gasoline from head to toe. Quang Duc didn’t even flinch as the other monk struck a match and set him ablaze. Passersby were mostly stunned, but some did manage to stop and pray as the monk burned alive.
His protest didn’t go unnoticed. The image made headlines all over the globe within hours. In the words of President John F. Kennedy: “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.”