It is roughly 1644 miles between Tibet and Ho Chi Minh City, where 48 years ago Buddhist monks burst into flames in protest against the U.S. backed government. Those actions also burst into the public eye through newspaper photos and television reports, igniting a different kind of flame –a slow flame of questioning and then challenging by Americans about just what was occurring in South Vietnam that was costing so much U.S treasure and lives.
It was Western media coverage of Buddhist monks immolating themselves in protest of the South Vietnamese regime in 1963 that introduced the word “self-immolation” to a wide English-speaking audience and gave it a strong political association that, then, demanded attention and action. And action is what occurred.
Setting oneself on fire still garners attention and outrage today – except, it seems, if it occurs in Tibet. As monks and nun set themselves aflame in Tibet in the same stoic manner against the harsh treatment by the Chinese government, there is little coverage and no action or reaction.
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