On this day in 1963, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc sat down at a busy intersection in Saigon, doused himself in petrol and burned himself to death in protest at the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam. David Halberstam of the New York Times witnessed it, and wrote:
"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."
Malcolm Browne's photograph of Thich Quang Duc can be seen here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/fd/Thich_Quang_Duc_-_Self_Immolation.jpg
It won the 1963 World Press Photo of the Year award, and was of course used on the cover of Rage Against The Machine's debut album.