Morte por fogo


Um comentário do Sérgio lembrou-me esta foto, que os ‘rap metal’ Rage Against the Machine escolheram para capa do seu álbum de estreia, em ’92 – o monge Thích Quảng Đức, budista vietnamita de 64 anos, a imolar-se num cruzamento de Saigão em 1963, em protesto contra a repressão de budistas pelo governo, e  tornando-se com esse acto um bodhisattva, um iluminado.

David Halberstam, na altura repórter do New York Times a cobrir a guerra noVietname

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Korean War correspondent Marguerite Higgins was the most pro-Diem (Ngo Dinh Diem, primeiro presidente do Vietname do Sul após a independência) journalist in the Saigon press corps and she frequently clashed with her younger male colleagues such as Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett and Halberstam. She derided them as “typewriter strategists” who were “seldom at the scenes of battle”. She alleged that they had ulterior motives, claiming “Reporters here would like to see us lose the war to prove they’re right.”

Mas Halberstam ganhou um prémio com a sua testemunha deste acontecimento:

I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think…. As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.

Isto foi em Junho. Em Novembro um golpe militar derruba Ngo Dinh Diem, com a conivência da administração Kennedy, iniciando-se um longo período de instabilidade. E Ngo não acaba muito melhor do que o


Mas aquela imolação abriu os olhos do mundo para esta prática, logo associada a monges budistas em transe. A verdade é que a coisa pegou e depois disto houve inúmeras auto-imolações em protesto contra a guerra, e não só no Vietname. Nos Estados Unidos houve pelo menos cinco.

“Norman Morrison was a Quaker. He was opposed to war, to the violence of war, the killing. He came to the Pentagon, doused himself with gasoline, burned himself to death below my office. He held a child in his arms, his daughter. Passersby shouted, ‘Save the child.’ He threw the child out of his arms, and the child lived and is alive today. His wife issued a very moving statement: ‘Human beings MUST stop killing other human beings.’”

   A auto-imolação é tolerada pelo budismo mahayana e pelo hinduísmo, e na Índia é prática há muitos séculos, por sati, por protesto político, por devoção, ou por renúnica. Algumas culturas guerreiras, tais como os charans e os rajputes, também a praticavam. 


 Os Charans

  • Highly feared by other communities for their readiness to self-immolate known as tragu, practiced by Charans whose demands had not been met.
  • Tragu consisted of shedding one’s own blood or the blood of some member of one’s family and calling down the vengeance of heaven upon the offender whose obstinacy necessitated the sacrifice.
  • Sometimes the Charans performed tragu by putting fire on themselves.
  • Tragu or self-immolations were performed only when the offending party was not considered to be an enemy. When the offending party was an enemy, the Charans would always choose to go to war.
  • Self immolations were performed for a variety of reasons, although usually over matters of honor.
  • This type of sacrifice was greatly respected. Readiness to sacrifice themselves allowed Charans to perform several important functions, one of which was to stand as surety (fiador). Rajputs valued a surety composed of Charans more than they did in any other type of sureties, because they knew that the Charans would make other parties honor an agreement even if it cost the Charans their own lives.

·          A Charan would commit tragu if anyone tried to rob him or his party. Near the entrance of almost every village in western Gujarat stand guardian stones (known as paliyas), which were set up to perpetuate the memory of Charan men and women who performed tragu to prevent robbers from carrying off the cattle of the village.

  • Many times Mahatma Gandhi announced that he would fast until death in order to change the opinions of those who opposed him. This closely resembles the practice of tragu; however, tragu performed by Charans used to be much more violent, and the reasons for it were not as broad and far reaching as those of Mahatma Gandhi. It is worth noting, however, that Mahatma Gandhi was born and brought up in the part of India where the Charan population is dominant.

e entre os rajputes:

  • Jauhar and Saka refer to the voluntary deaths of men and women of the Rajput clan in order to avoid capture and dishonour at the hands of their enemies.
  • This was done sometimes by Hindu and Sikh women, in Mughal times and there are recorded incidences of this on a much smaller scale during the Partition in 1947 when women preferred death to being raped, turned into a slave or being forced into a marriage and to take their enemies’ religion.
  • Jauhar (also spelled jowhar) was originally the voluntary death on a funeral pyre of the queens and royal womenfolk of defeated Rajput kingdoms.
  • The term is extended to describe the occasional practice of mass suicide carried out in medieval times by Rajput women and men. This was usually done before or at the same time their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons rode out in a charge to meet their attackers and certain death. The upset caused by the knowledge that their women and younger children were dead, no doubt filled them with rage in this fight to the death called saka.

                  Gosto do pormenor do tipo no topo à esquerda a preparar-se para acender o cigarro.. “Veio mesmo a calhar”, pensa…

 A coisa peou mesmo e houve também 3 checos a auto-imolarem-se em protesto contra a invasão soviética em ’68, húngaros contra o regime comunista, gregos contra a junta militar, lituanos e alemães de leste, arménios, chilenos anti-Pinochet, taiwaneses, chineses, paquistaneses, a moda mantém o seu atractivo.

 na Coreia

 e na Índia.

E estes são os casos nos últimos meses:

  • On August 9, 2008, Dean Lorenzo Turnbull Jr. of Maryland committed suicide by setting his house on fire and refusing to leave.
  • On October 1, 2008, the indigenous Mexican leader Ramiro Guillén Tapia attempted self-immolation during an act of protest against the local government in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. He died the day after.
  • On October 30, 2008, a former staff member of the University of Washington self-immolated at the campus’s Red Square. He was 61 years old.
  • On Halloween night, October 31, 2008, the body of University of Rochester sophomore Kurt Scheele was found scorched beyond recognition in a remote area of Mt. Hope Cemetery beside a gas can and a book bag after security personnel reported a fire. He was apparently a victim of self-immolation.
  • On November 11, 2008, Liu Bai-yan self-immolated at Taipei Liberty Square in Taiwan. The 80-year-old former-Kuomintang member was unsatisfied with police mistreatment and the government’s attitude during the visit by China’s Chen Yunlin.
  • On February 12, 2009, a 40 year-old man set himself on fire with gasoline outside the Harry Hayes building in downtown Calgary, resulting in second-degree burns to 40 percent of his body.
  • 2009 has seen several incidences of self-immolation in solidarity with Tamils in Sri Lanka, including the self-immolation of Murukathasan in front of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) in Switzerland.
  • Self-immolation of Muthukumar, happened on 29 January 2009 when one K. Muthukumar of Tamil Nadu, India self immolated or killed himself by burning to protest against the alleged killing of minority Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka as part of the Sri Lankan civil war.

 E porcausa disto tropecei em dois livros:

Death by Fire, de Mala Sen, a ver com este tópico

e India Today do ‘goês’ Frank Moraes.


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