Buddhist monk Quang Duc publicly burns himself to death in a plea for President Ngo Dinh Diem to show "charity and compassion" to all religions. Diem, a Catholic who had been oppressing the Buddhist majority, remained stubborn despite continued Buddhist protests and repeated U.S. requests to liberalize his government's policies. More Buddhist monks immolated themselves during ensuing weeks.
Madame Nhu, the president's sister-in-law, referred to the burnings as "barbecues" and offered to supply matches. In November 1963, South Vietnamese military officers assassinated Diem and his brother during a coup.
Thich Quang Duc, was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Quang Duc was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government led by Ngo Dinh Diem. Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm government.
As President Kennedy said in reference to a photograph of Duc on fire, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one." Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his renowned photograph of the monk's death. After his death, his body was re-cremated, but his heart remained intact.
Quang Duc's act increased international pressure on Diệm and led him to announce reforms with the intention of mollifying the Buddhists. However, the promised reforms were not implemented, leading to a deterioration in the dispute. With protests continuing, the ARVN Special Forces loyal to Diệm's brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, launched nationwide raids on Buddhist pagodas, seizing Quang Duc's heart and causing deaths and widespread damage. Several Buddhist monks followed Quang Duc's example, also immolating themselves. Eventually, an Army coup toppled Diệm, who was assassinated on 2 November 1963.
taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/buddhist-immolates-himself-in-protest & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch_Qu%E1%BA%A3ng_%C3%90%E1%BB%A9c [11.06.2013]