4. The Power of Photographs

by Tony Quinn

Pictures change ideas, people and beliefs.

burning monk

Two images from Harry Evans' Pictures on a Page. On the left:

  • Fellow Buddhist monks poured petrol over 73-year-old Reverend Quang Duc as he sat in a street in Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam (now Ho Chi Minh City).
  • He set himself on fire to himself in protest at government persecution of Buddhists.

On the right: Children caught in a napalm attack.

Such images went around the world and helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam war.

But not only that ... Quang Duc changed the way people choose to die. Self -immolation was a very rare form of suicide but it became much more common after the pictures were seen.

In 1986, several South Korean students set themselves on fire and and one jumped from a building at Seoul university to protest against 'US imperialism'. In 1999, a 14-year-old Kurdish girl set fire to herself at a protest in central London.

Page 5: Rodchenko's deadly propoganda tricks