What could be the most extreme but nonviolent form of protest that one could do to hopefully bring your message out there for as many people, especially those in power, to be heard? Of course, some would probably conduct a rally out on the streets? But, in this modern time, perhaps they could create and spread an online petition, something that could easily reach many people all over the globe.

In 1963, during the Vietnam War, one Buddhist monk decided to do something more than those when he protested against the government for the discrimination the Buddhists were receiving.

Discontent for the Biased Government

Vietnam is, no doubt, a Buddhist country. From as early as the first or second century CE, Buddhism had been practiced by the ethnic Vietnamese from the Indian subcontinent or China. During the Vietnam War, the majority of the country practiced Buddhism as their religion, around 70 to 90 percent. However, then-president Ngo Dinh Diem was a member of the Catholic minority in the country, which should not have been an issue until he decided to set discriminatory policies in favor of the Catholics in terms of public service and military promotions. He also had the same bias regarding land allocation, business arrangements, and tax concessions. As a result, officers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) started converting to Catholicism, worried about their military prospects.

Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem. (Department of Defense. Department of the Air Force. NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-342-AF-18302USAFCropping by User: PFHLai, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

When weapons were distributed to village self-defense militias, those who were Buddhists were denied receiving firearms, and Buddhists in the army were also denied promotion unless they converted to Roman Catholicism. Buddhists would also need official permission first to conduct public Buddhist activities.