Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An Austin for the Ages

A nondescript Austin Westminster played a small part in an act both historic and horrific and it is on display in Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam. 

Courtesy Robbie DeGraff
The act in which it played a part was the stunning self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk protesting the South Vietnamese government's suppression of activities and freedoms by non-Roman Catholic religions. Petitions of grievance presented to the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem were routinely ignored and the Catholic minority in South Viet Nam continued to receive preferential treatment in policies of taxation, military promotion and political appointments. 

Copyright, Malcolm Browne
Thich Quang Duc sought to bring these grievances to the public eye and decided to perform an act that would literally be seared into the eyes of the world. He chose to set himself aflame in protest and the act was caught in a series of photos by journalist Malcolm Browne.

But about that Westminster.It's the car that carried Duc to the street fronting the Cambodian embassy in Saigon where he set himself aflame while chanting Buddhist mantras. 

The Austin is on display in Ho Chi Minh City and Robbie DeGraff wrote an excellent story about it for Hooniverse. Do check it out.

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