The immolation of Thich Quang Duc

SR 2099/3
714 Take 1
Interview with Thich Tu Hanh, a Buddhist.
Thich Tu Hanh:
The Venerable Thich Quang Duc decided to resort to self-immolation during a time when the repression under the Diem regime was extremely brutal against the Buddhist community in Vietnam. At a time when the Buddhist monks and nuns and lay people in Vietnam were demanding their legitimate rights and asking the Ngo Dinh Diem regime to abandon its policy of religious discrimination, the Diem regime obstinately refused the Buddhists of all their rights.
Faced with this situation, Venerable Quang Duc decided to devote his body as a torch to light the struggle for the preservation of religious teachings. Although the Buddhist Church had tried to stop Venerable Quang Duc many times because it thought that such a sacrifice was not necessary for the struggle of the Buddhist community in Vietnam, as the struggle progressed, the brutality of the Diem regime in its repression also increased.
This was the situation that prompted Venerable Quang Duc to decide to sacrifice himself to protect the teachings of the religion. The Venerable said that if the Buddhist leaders did not allow him to realize his decision of self-immolation in Saigon, then he would, in one way or another and at some other time, carry out his decision. Finally, the Venerable was able to fulfill his wish during the ceremony for the dead, which the monks and nuns staged in Saigon in commemoration of those killed at the radio station in Hue.
This ceremony to pray for the dead occurred at the Phat Buu pagoda. And there was a procession from the Phat Buu pagoda to the Xa Loi pagoda. The Venerable Thich Quang Duc led this procession. He sat in a small car, leading the procession. I was one of the participants in the procession. When we reached the intersection of Phan Dinh Phung Street and the former Le Van Duyet Street (which are now called the August Revolution Avenue and the Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street) the car carrying the Venerable Thich Quang Duc stopped suddenly in the middle of the intersection.
I then saw the Venerable stepped out of his car and sat in a lotus position, which was a Buddhist meditation position, and then a monk stepped forward and poured gasoline on the Venerable. At that same moment, a flame engulfed the body of the Venerable. When the fire engulfed the body of the Venerable in the middle of the intersection, the entire group of nuns and months who participated in the procession formed a ring around the Venerable in order to pray and to protect the Venerable. By this time I also saw fire trucks rushing from the direction of Saigon to disperse the crowd.
All at once, a number of young people left the circle which was formed around the Venerable Quang Duc and lay on the street to keep the fire truck from advancing and attacking the location where the Venerable Quang Duc underwent self-immolation. As soon as the human torch of the Venerable Thich Quang Duc extinguished, the prayers of the monks and nuns also ended. The entire procession then used a large Buddhist banner to wrap the remains of the Venerable Quang Duc.
Then four monks and nuns in full Buddhist ceremonial dresses carried the remains of the Venerable Quang Duc and led the procession to the Xa Loi pagoda where they respectfully placed his humble remains. During the period when the remains of the Venerable Quang Duc was placed in Xa Loi pagoda, the struggles of the Buddhist community grew by leaps and bounds in the city of Saigon. There were many rallies of Buddhists which involved about 10,000 each at the Xa Loi pagoda.
There were gigantic fasts which involved so many people that they spilled out into the streets. All these were to protest the Ngo Dinh Diem regime. About a week later the remains of the Venerable Quang Duc was cremated. On the day that the remains of the Venerable Thich Quang Duc was cremated, more than 20,000 Buddhists in Saigon gathered in a procession to bring the remains of the Venerable to the crematory. Along the procession route, the combat police of the Saigon puppet regime brutally assaulted the participants.
While the cremation of the remains of the Venerable Thich Quang Duc was going on, everything was burnt except for his heart which remained intact. His heart was set on fire two more times, but it still did not burn. For this reason, the heart of the Venerable Quang Duc is still being kept in Vietnam.