In the early 1960s in South Vietnam, Buddhist monks committed suicide by setting themselves on fire.
Not a method of protest which I would recommend to anyone. Also not a method recommended by Buddhist religion. The monks did this out of despair, because of the bloody persecution of Buddhists by the United States-supported Saigon regime of dictator Diem and fanatically Roman Catholic First Lady Madame Nhu.
This lethal form of protest did manage to focus attention on the oppression. Soon, dictator Diem was deposed by a coup. Later, in the 1970s, the whole Saigon regime collapsed.
In Czechoslovakia, on 19 January 1969, student Jan Palach committed suicide by setting himself on fire, as a protest against the invasion of his country by Warsaw Pact troops. Though that was, again, an act of despair which I would not recommend, it did play a role in delegitimizing the post-Warsaw Pact invasion government. Which finally collapsed in 1989.
In Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia in December 2010, young unemployed graduate Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire as a protest against poverty and oppression under the Ben Ali dictatorship. This caused big indignation; which soon drove away dictator Ben Ali.
In Greece this year, various people committed suicide in public as a protest against the pro-capitalist austerity policies. We do not know yet how the situation in Greece will evolve.
This video is called Israeli man sets himself on fire in Tel Aviv during protest.
Now, from daily Haaretz in Israel:
Israeli man sets himself on fire during Tel Aviv social protest
Protester in serious condition after he poured gasoline on his body and set himself on fire; in letter he left behind, he says, ‘the state of Israel robbed me.’
By Yaniv Kubovich, Ilan Lior and Talila Nesher | Jul.14, 2012 | 10:54 PM
An Israeli man set himself on fire Saturday during a Tel Aviv demonstration marking the anniversary of last summer’s social protests.
As thousands marched down Kaplan street in Tel Aviv to mark one year since the start of social protests, one of the protesters, a 52-year-old man, poured gasoline on his body and set himself on fire. The man was evacuated to Ichilov Hospital shortly afterward.
In a letter he left at the scene, he wrote that, “The state of Israel stole from me and robbed me. It left me helpless.”
“Two Housing and Construction Ministry committees rejected me, even though I had a stroke,” he wrote in the letter said, saying that the facts could be checked with a public housing company in Haifa.
In the letter, he said that he blames “the state of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, for the humiliation that the weakened citizens go through every day, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.”
Yonatan Sahar, a protester who witnessed the incident, said that he was standing next to the man, when suddenly he set himself on fire. “I saw him holding something burning,” he said. When suddenly he poured gasoline on himself and immediately caught fire. “I didn’t know what to do,” he added.
According to medical officials, the man is currently in serious condition.
Dozens of protesters arrived at Ichilov Hospital after hearing about the incident. Police forces prevented their entry, while filming the protesters who held signs condemning the Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Protesters also remained at the site where the man lit himself on fire.
Ofer Barkan, a social protest activist from Haifa, said that the man was an activist in last year’s protests. “We met him last summer,” Barkan said, “he was a completely normative person who lived in Tel Aviv but then his business went under. He became a cab driver and suffered a stroke which left him unemployed. He moved from Tel Aviv to Haifa because he could not afford life in the city.” According to Barkan, he had threatened to light himself on fire multiple times. “We felt that he was close to do it, but we didn’t know,” he added.
Activists are planning to march from Silman’s home to the Haifa municipality tomorrow.
Earlier on Saturday, thousands of Israelis gathered in several cities throughout the country to mark one year since the start of the social protests.
Thousands protested in Tel Aviv, while hundreds took to the streets in Haifa, Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem, and Afula.
Daphni Leef, the woman who launched the social protest, told Haaretz on Saturday that one year later, the activists’ message hasn’t changed.
“We want a fair society,” she said. “Today we are also celebrating. Suddenly, when people take to the streets they understand that they have power and that they are right.”
See also here.
Between Tunisia and Israel: A personal tragedy becomes the symbol of Israel’s social struggle. The tragic act of Moshe Silman setting himself on fire during a social protest reflects the depth of the gaping chasm between the people and the government: here.
“Between Realization and Dehydration” – a comprehensive report published by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) – presents for the first time the processes and methods by which successive Israeli governments have cut back social services over the past three decades. Housing, education, heath, employment, welfare and more – all these were drained as Israel turned itself into a country where many people find it difficult to exercise their right to a dignified life: here.
A quarter of adults in England and Wales have considered suicide, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm) said today: here.