Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/14

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Xá Lợi Pagoda

Colonel Lê Quang Tung (1923 – November 1, 1963) was the commander of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces under the command of Ngô Đình Nhu, the brother of South Vietnam's president, Ngô Đình Diệm. A former servant of the Ngô family, Tung's military background was in security and counterespionage. During the 1950s, Tung was a high-ranking official in Nhu's Cần Lao Party, the secret Roman Catholic organisation which maintained the Ngô family's grip on power, extorting money from wealthy businessmen. In 1960, Tung was promoted directly to the rank of colonel and became the commander of the special forces. Tung's period at the helm of South Vietnam's elite troops was noted mostly for his work in repressing dissidents, especially attacking Buddhists, rather than fighting the Việt Cộng insurgents. His most well-known attack was the raid on Xá Lợi Pagoda (pictured) on August 21, 1963 in which hundreds, including monks, were believed to have died. Across the country, his men heavily vandalised Buddhist property. In another incident, his men killed a giant fish because Buddhists regarded it as a reincarnation of one of Buddha's disciples. Tung's main military program was a scheme in which Army of the Republic of Vietnam personnel attempted to infiltrate North Vietnam in order to engage in intelligence gathering and sabotage. The program was ineffective, with the vast majority of infiltrators being killed or captured. Following the pagoda raids, the US terminated funding to Tung's men because they were used as a political tool rather than against the communists. Along with Diệm and Nhu, Tung was assassinated during the November 1963 coup.