Buddhist Uprising

The Buddhist Uprising of 1966 was a period of civil and military unrest in South Vietnam, largely focused in the I Corps area in the north of the country in central Vietnam. The area is a heartland of Vietnamese Buddhism and at the time, activist Buddhist monks and civilians were at the forefront of opposition to a series of military juntas that had been ruling the nation, as well as prominently questioning the escalation of the Vietnam War.

During the rule of the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem, the discrimination against the majority Buddhist population generated the growth of Buddhist institutions as they sought to participate in national politics and gain better treatment. In 1965, after a series of military coups that followed the fall of the Diem regime in 1963, Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky and General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu finally established a stable junta, holding the positions of Prime Minister and figurehead Chief of State respectively. During that time, there were still much suspicion and tension between the Buddhist and Catholic factions in Vietnamese society.

The religious factor combined with a power struggle between Ky and General Nguyen Chanh Thi, the commander of I Corps, a Buddhist local to the region and popular in the area. Thi was a strong-willed officer regarded as a capable commander, and Ky saw him as a threat, as did others within the junta. In March 1966, Ky fired Thi and ordered him into exile in the United States under the false pretense of medical treatment. This prompted both civilians and some I Corps units to launch widespread civil protests against Ky's regime and halt military operations against Vietcong. Ky gambled by allowing Thi to return to I Corps before departing for the US, but the arrival of the general to his native area only fuelled anti-Ky sentiment. The Buddhist activists, students and Thi loyalists in the military coalesced into the "Struggle Movement", calling for a return to civilian rule and elections. Meanwhile Thi stayed in I Corps and did not leave; strikes and protests stopped civilian activity in the area, government radio stations were taken over and used for anti-Ky campaigning, and military operations ceased. Riots also spread to the capital Saigon and other cities further south.

At the start of April, Ky decided to move. He declared that Da Nang, the main centre in I Corps, to be under communist control and publicly vowed to kill the mayor, who had expressed support for the Struggle Movement. He moved military forces into the city and travelled there to prepare for an assault, but had to withdraw and then start discussions with Buddhist leaders regarding when it was obvious that he was not strong enough to crush the opposition. In the meantime, he fired Thi's successor Nguyen Van Chuan because he wanted a firmer attempt to regain control, and appointed Ton That Dinh to replace him. Dinh claimed to have calmed the situation, but Ky viewed the situation as appeasement and on May 15, his forces drove off Dinh and took over. During the past month, the American forces had also become involved in the stand-off and the Struggle Movement viewed their participation as biased towards Ky, tending to some tense confrontations.

In the second half of May, Ky's forces began to force the issue and gradually wore down the Struggle Movement as the rebel I Corps forces were worn down, despite some American objections that his aggressive attacks had the potential to cause too much collateral damage. At one stage, Ky's forces ended up in a skirmish with American forces, and later, the Americans were in the middle of a stand-off between the Vietnamese factions regarding a mined bridge. As Ky's forces took back Da Nang and Hue in street fighting, Struggle Movement supporters saw American intervention as being pro-Ky and anti-US riots resulted in some American buildings being burnt down. Ky's triumph ended the Buddhist movement's influence on politics and he confined their leader Thich Tri Quang to house arrest thereafter, while Thi left for the US.

Read more about Buddhist Uprising:  Background, Military Threats By Ky and Ongoing Unrest, Dinh Takes Command of I Corps, Military Climax, Victory For Ky

Other articles related to "buddhist uprising, buddhist":

Religious War - Religious Conflict - Buddhist Uprising
... During the rule of the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem, the discrimination against the majority Buddhist population generated the growth of Buddhist institutions ... The Buddhist Uprising of 1966 was a period of civil and military unrest in South Vietnam, largely focused in the I Corps area in the north of the country in central Vietnam ... In a country where the Buddhist majority was estimated to be between 70 and 90 percent, Diem ruled with a strong religious bias ...
Buddhist Uprising - Victory For Ky
... Ky's command finally broken the remaining pockets of rebel soldiers and Buddhist militants in Da Nang, the Buddhist fighters managed to hold out for four hours against government ground ... On May 26, a large pro-Buddhist crowd attended the funeral of the rebel ARVN lieutenant who was killed after shooting at General Cao’s departing ... Over the next week, three Buddhist clergy self-immolated in protest at US policies ...

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