Vietnamese Woman Self-Immolates In Anti-China Protest

Tyler Durden's picture

As the anti-China protests in Vietnam - following China's imposition of an oil-rig in disputed territorial waters - RFA reports that a vietnamese woman belonging to an outlawed Buddhist movement died Friday after setting herself on fire in protest against China's actions. The woman, 67-year-old Le Thi Tuyet Mai, surrounded herself with seven banners denouncing Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea before dousing herself in gasoline and setting it alight early Friday morning in front of the Reunification Palace in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. As the following clip shows, police put out the blaze within three minutes but she succumbed to her burns. With China showing no signs of backing down, one of Mai's banners perhaps warrants most attention for the future, "I offer my body as a torch to light the path of all patriots."



The 67-year-old...


As RFA reports,

A Vietnamese woman belonging to an outlawed Buddhist movement died Friday after setting herself on fire in protest against China's actions in a territorial dispute with Vietnam, according to activists and local media.


The woman, 67-year-old Le Thi Tuyet Mai, surrounded herself with seven banners denouncing Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea before dousing herself in gasoline and setting it alight early Friday morning in front of the Reunification Palace in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. 


Police told Vietnamese media they put out the blaze within three minutes but she succumbed to her burns.


The burning protest follows a clampdown on demonstrations against China's May 1 deployment of a giant oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam.




The banners found next to her body displayed handwritten slogans expressing opposition to Chinese incursions into Vietnamese waters and support for the UBCV patriarch Thich Quang Do’s stance on the issue, the IBIB said.


Last week, the IBIB issued a statement saying Do was “disturbed” by China’s deployment of the  oil rig off the coast of central Vietnam and wanted the Vietnamese government and the ruling Communist Party “to embark on a process of democratization to enable its citizens to participate equally in the defense of their homeland.”


“I offer my body as a torch to light the path of all patriots,” one of the banners displayed by Mai read, according to the group.  Others included - "Demand unity to smash the Chinese invasion plot" and "Support Vietnamese coast guards and fishermen."

But after initially supporting protests, the government is backing away...

China’s deployment of the oil rig in contested waters near the Paracel Islands has triggered fury in Vietnam.


Hanoi had initially lauded "patriotic" displays by its citizens and allowed protests by thousands in a rare move that amplified state anger against Beijing.


But it backpedalled after the protests turned violent last week, with rioters targeting factories in industrial parks around the country.


Some dissidents and activists who took part in peaceful protests reported they were brutally beaten and harassed by police.

But as The Diplomat notes, Vietnam is stepping up cooperation with other claimants in the South China Sea,

It’s been over two weeks since China announced the placement of an oil rig in the South China Sea, 120 nautical miles from Vietnam’s coast and 17 nautical miles from the nearest Paracel Island. Beijing and Hanoi have been locked in a confrontation ever since, with tensions from naval clashes spilling over into deadly anti-China riots near Ho Chi Minh City. As neither shows signs of backing down, Vietnam is signaling that it is increasingly interested in tightening coordination with other claimants in the South China Sea disputes, including the Philippines and Malaysia.


Even while China was hosting a massive gathering of international leaders, and presenting its own vision for Asian security, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was on a visit to Manila to meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. Given the two countries’ heated disputes with China over islands and features in the South China Sea, Beijing’s conduct (and how to respond) was a major topic of discussion. In remarks at a joint press briefing with Aquino, Dung said the two leaders “shared the deep concerns over the current extremely dangerous situation caused by China’s many actions that violate the international law, the UNCLOS 1982, and seriously infringe upon the waters of coastal countries.” Dung added that “Viet Nam and the Philippines are determined to oppose China’s violations.” He also called for other countries and the international community at large “to continue strongly demanding China to immediately end its above-said violations.”


Both the tone and the setting of these remarks were notable. It was harshly critical of China, and delivered while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Philippine President. Brought together by their opposition to China’s territorial claims, Hanoi and Manila are seeking to deepen their own partnership. In addition to pledging to expand bilateral dialogues and communication mechanisms, the two sides also promised to “consult and support each other at regional cooperation mechanisms on defense and security such as the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).” Notably, at many ASEAN meetings, Vietnam and the Philippines are the strongest proponents of unified action on the South China Sea issue.


Vietnam is also considering hosting a meeting with Philippine and Malaysian officials later in May, Reuters reports. Similar meetings were held in February and March to discuss Manila’s arbitration case against China. The motive behind the talks are clear, according to one senior Malaysian diplomat: China’s recent actions have “brought us together.” Malaysia has been far more quite about its territorial disputes with China than Vietnam or the Philippines, but there are signs Kuala Lumpur may be considering a more robust response.


Against the backdrop of nascent cooperation between Hanoi, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur, there are signs that Vietnam is considering following in the Philippines’ footsteps by filing legal suit against China’s territorial claims. In a press conference in Manila, Prime Minister Dung ruled out a “military solution” to the current oil rig standoff, but he was equally resolute that Vietnam would not back down. “Viet Nam is considering various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with the international law,” Dung said.


In a separate interview, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam told Reuters that Vietnam was following Manila’s arbitration case “very closely.” Vietnam “would like to use all measures provided by international law to protect our legitimate interests,” he said. Reuters reported that Beijing pressured Hanoi not to join the Philippine case earlier this year. Now, with ties rapidly fraying, Vietnam might be ready to defy China by filing its own arbitration case.


There’s been little progress on dealing with the South China Sea disputes through ASEAN as a whole, as many ASEAN members have no disputes with China and thus have little reason to risk Beijing’s ire through firm action. Now it seems that those ASEAN states with disputes against China are considering forming a smaller coalition to deal with Beijing’s territorial claims.


In addition to seeking to form a united front with other regional partners, Vietnam might also accelerate the process of deepening ties with the U.S. While in his press conference Dung ruled out the possibility of Vietnam joining a military alliance, he also repeated his call for other countries and the international community to “continue expressing strong protests” against China’s actions. Likewise, the Communist Party of Vietnam emphasized that the Foreign Ministry should use diplomacy and international support as a means of protecting Vietnam’s sovereignty. Accordingly Hanoi will likely seek to increase ties with the U.S., as well as with Russia and India.


For its part, the U.S. has expressed a hope of increasing engagement with Vietnam in the wake of the China-Vietnam clashes. A spokesman for the U.S. Seventh Fleet told Reuters that Washington “would welcome increased port visits with Vietnam.”


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Fukushima Sam's picture

I'm sure everything is just fine over in Vietnam.

idea_hamster's picture

Ask the Tibetans how much Beijing cares about self-immolation.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

That's just another gallon of oil gone from the world so now China will have to pump out another gallon with that oil rig.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture



To modify the old saying about Yemen:

"Touch Vietnam, you get burned"

We did, and we got burned.


My personal opinion is that China will over-reach.  They will get old before they get rich.  They are making real enemies now...

And their oil position is even in more dire straits than ours.

Crash, sometime I would like to know how you are preparing and how you are investing in the ugly oil scenarios you paint (which I only partly disagree with).  Seriously, many ZH-ers would like to know what a serious student of oil like you would suggest that we do.


[Unless you are selfishly keeping your ideas secret...]

ZerOhead's picture

"I offer my body as a torch to light the path of all patriots."


Nationalistic Buddhism is simply NOT Buddhism... at least as I understand it.

ebworthen's picture

Agree.  That whole self-immolation thing is selfish.

Think of the poor saps that had to do the clean up.

ZerOhead's picture

I don't know about selfish but psychotic certainly fits the bill... and yes the saps that had to deal with the leftover charcoal are probably going to suffer from PTBD... (Post Traumatic Barbecue Disorder)

Not to say that China isn't quickly becoming a new global pariah state that needs to be dealt with by the rest of the planet...

Headbanger's picture

I agree it's sickening but I think her intent was to show her people they will need to sacrifice themselves as she did to defeat the enemy.

She was probably a very patriotic soldier fighting us way back when.


Oracle 911's picture

Maybe you are right, who knows how patriotic she was.

But in this case of self immolation, I see handwriting of the CIA (or other intelligence agency) and some kind of psyops. And I  think the Vietnamese gov don't like this kind of meddling into his affairs (neither Chinese gov).

I personally suspect, the Chinese and Vietnamese gov  will figure out how to settle this matter peacefully.

ebear's picture

"...her intent was to show her people they will need to sacrifice themselves as she did to defeat the enemy."

The enemy in this case being the communist party of Vietnam.

401K of Dooom's picture

Hmmmm, I thought it was the <a href="">democraps</a> you know!  The party of Obamacare, Obamanomics and Obamaphones!

medium giraffe's picture

Fundamentalists, sects, violence.  Isn't religion fun? I think it was Dawkins that pointed out that westerners largely believe Buddhism to be gentle and loving, but then went on to describe disabled members of a community being ostracised.  It was thought that crimes of a former incarnation were being punished by way of disability in the present, that the disabled deserved to be disabled.

ZerOhead's picture

When you start checking out the facts as opposed to the myths one can clearly see that all religion is basically a form of a self induced mental illness.

medium giraffe's picture

Does appear to be, though a good deal is via social indoctrination.  A shame really, perhaps buried under centuries of bullshit and manipulated messages there is a grain of spiritual truth in most belief systems.

ajax's picture



"When you start checking out the facts as opposed to the myths one can clearly see that all religion is basically a form of a self induced mental illness."

No, I'd substitute "self induced mental illness" with heirarchic control: Queen Bees and Queen Ants replaced with High Priests, Popes, Chief Rabbis, Imams etc.

ZerOhead's picture

Yup. Generation indoctrination to be sure but it is still up to the individual to B E L I E V E.

And when you hated your King because he was a despotic tyrant... once deposed the church would be happy to provide or bless another tyrant for you guaranteeing clerical jobs/control in perpetuity.

A safety valve of sorts to keep things the same as they ever were...

dogbreath's picture

Didn't Dawkins also say that he was molested as a child and " I am okay".  He then went on to defend pedophila as not being that harmful.

medium giraffe's picture

If he was giving me his opinion on paedophilia I might be somewhat hesitant to take it, but that's very different to, say, stating an observation.  I agree that his opinion about his childhood is unhelpful to others in a similar situation, but we probably ought to wary of telling a man whom was abused as a child what he should/shouldn't be feeling per our own social expectations and externally validated morality.

GardenWeasel's picture

Dawkins is merely the leader of the cult of Darwinism. Anything he says is as relevant as the teachings of Jim Jones.


john39's picture

i wonder what role the CIA is playing in stoking up disputes between China and its neighbors...  China's growing alliance with Russia was obviously anticipated by the "west"...  so it seems that in traditional CIA fashion, all sorts of issues will now engage China...  everything from terror attacks to business disruption to fomenting conflicts with neighbors.

Ignatius's picture

More interesting is those who wonder how 'we' could have lost the Vietnam War.

This woman's act might be exhibit 1 -- God rest her soul.


John, the short answer is that the CIA is everywhere.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

And yet, the CIA is inept in great part.  They are not omniscient.  If my experiences from long ago mean anything, I would know.

They may be everywhere, but their power is less fearsome than many believe.

Ignatius's picture

A good deal of their power is that you and I and others are not coordinated and organized against it.

CrabNuggetOne's picture


'John, the short answer is that the CIA is everywhere.'

'And yet, the CIA is inept in great part.'

The truth is it's THE US DOLLAR that is everywhere. Trouble is the dollar is (for now) accepted and that includes by those who would do harm to others at the behest of the CIA. The US pays for terrorism with toilet paper. The US dollar must die for there to be a chance of peace in the world.

Terminus C's picture

the death of the dollar will not bring peace... the removal of psycho/sociaopaths from the world might... might... but really it would take a psycho/sociopath to cull that number of humans so... not likely.  Get used to it, humans are aquisitive, aggressive, and amoral. This is nature and there will be no peace.

ebear's picture

"John, the short answer is that the CIA is everywhere."

You're right!  I even found one of their decoder rings in a box of Cracker Jacks.   Very careless of them.

Ignatius's picture

Read the works of author Douglas Valentine so as to preempt making a fool of yourself.  If you don't read -- as may be your case -- there are some fine audio podcast interviews online.

sessinpo's picture

Ignatius     John, the short answer is that the CIA is everywhere.


And they aren't> The problem is these huge centralized governments. Spies of every nationality will always exist as will some form of government. But downsizing government will downsize these secret agencies.

Ignatius's picture

Yes.  The CIA is as much symptom as cause.

11b40's picture

So, the CIA convinced China to put an oil rig in VN territorial waters?

The Vietnamese don't need outside influence to pump up the anger against China.

VN may have a communist govt in control now, but it is a seriously Nationalistic country.  Communist, Socialist, Facist, or Democratic.....the main thing is the that they are ruled by other Vietnamese and not foreigners.


Oh regional Indian's picture

Very strange to see, what is pushing people to the brink now-adays...

I think i figured it out. The 3G life is the answer...


ebear's picture



As I stand on the bank of this swollen river

Should I throw you a line as you're swept by?

The water is rising all around us.

Soon I too shall be swept away.



Harbanger's picture

This woman happens to be 67 yrs old.  Same exact age as Hitlery, just sayin.

ShrNfr's picture

Hillary has been injected with too much formaldahyde to burn properly. She really ought to change taxadermists too. The current one is putting on too much makeup and not enough stuffing behind the skin. It leaves waaay too many wrinkles and frow's feet on her face. Fortunately, we cannot see other parts of her.

Jumbotron's picture

Damn shame that the people we went to war 50 years ago with now have more courage to do what it takes in the name of freedom than any American Sheeple does at this very moment.


Omegaman2211's picture

Nothing she did was in the name of freedom. She was protesting on behalf of government (Vietnam's).

11b40's picture

Perhaps you just don't understand the deep resentment of Colonialism in VN.  Plus, it is a nation of warriors, perpetually ready to go to battle - if not against external forces, then internal conflict will do.


GardenWeasel's picture

So, you think people set themselves on fire for superfluous reasons?  Please, do enlighten us.  Perhaps you'd like to give us an example?


The Blank Stare's picture

What do you mean "now have"?

remain calm's picture

No one can argue that she is not "smoking hot"

TBT or not TBT's picture

I bet there's a kind of sick desperation in your laugh.

remain calm's picture

Why the down votes? Too soon?

No Quarter's picture

I didn't down vote that but...That was kind of fucked up. Just saying. 

sessinpo's picture

remain calm      Why the down votes? Too soon?


Because you act like you are drunk stupid. And if you are sober, I'd hate to see you drunk because I'd probably shoot you.

Bangin7GramRocks's picture

Lighten up asshole! Some people like to make jokes on here. The world doesn't need to be so serious.

GardenWeasel's picture

Because you are apparently that brain dead, yes, ever would be too soon SHIT-FOR-BRAINS!.

q99x2's picture

She was from Q99X2. I told her last week not to try alcohol and what would happen. Listen and learn. Now she'll have some explaining to do once she gets to Pittsburgh..

Son of Loki's picture

"No one saw this coming...."