The Buddhist Riots of 1963
The Buddhist Riots of 1963
Events that take place in history that influence the course of future events are considered turning points. There were several events during the Vietnam War which would be considered a turning point and the Buddhist Riot of 1963 is one such event. The magnitude of the riots and loss of innocent lives that characterized the six month period make the occurrences part of the turning point in American history (Schmidt, 2015). The Buddhist riots were religiously and politically instigated events in South Vietnam between the months of May and November in 1963. However these events did not only have repercussions in America, they proved to be instrumental in Ngo Dinh Diem’s demise.
Prior to the Buddhist crisis, after the Geneva Accords, Vietnamese civilians were granted the opportunity to stay where they living currently or the option to move to North or South Vietnam depending on their preference. A ...view middle of the document...
The shootings happened in the city of Hue, on May 8, 1963. By May 13th, Buddhist clergy in Hue had drafted a list of demands to give the government officials titled ‘Manifesto of Vietnamese Buddhist Clergy and Faithful’, in which they paid little attention to.
Buddhists had enough and were demanding religious freedom, however, Diem not only refused their request, but Buddhist leaders were jailed. President Kennedy had warned Diem that he should grant religious equality for the Buddhist, but his request was ignored. Diem had refused to lift the ban. The Buddhists intensified their pressure by organizing a series of hunger strikes and four weeks of memorial services. “The Buddhist revolt reached a new dimension on June 11th. Thich Quang Duc, a 73 year old bonze, immolated himself in front of a large crowd at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon (Moss, 2010). American photographers captured pictures of the scene that were widely circulated and had made international news. Duc’s self-immolation, which led to similar Buddhist suicides in Vietnam, Europe and the United States to protest the Vietnam War, shocked the world. People who did not think about the Buddhist had now supported their cause. President Kennedy and the United States were criticized for supporting a government that persecuted religious beliefs.
The Buddhist Crisis was a turning point in Vietnam history and could have been avoided if Diem promoted peace and equality. The chance of peace became impossible as long as Diem was in leadership. Diem never thought that the US would go against him but he was wrong. On August 22, 1963, he became aware that “Because of the Buddhist crisis, American opinion had turned against him and that Diem had to change or else the US aid would be cut” (Moss, 2010). The publicity of the Buddhist riots forced the United States to take action and support a coup d’état. This coup eventually led to the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Nhu later that year in November thus changing the course of the Vietnam War.
Moss, D.G. (2010). Vietnam: An American Ordeal ( 6th ed.). Upper Saddle River NJ: Prentice Hall.
Schmidt, D.E. (2005). The Folly of War: American Foreign Policy, 1898-2005. New York: Algora Publishing.