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Ngo Dinh Diem
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World Leader
    (January 3, 1901-November 2, 1963)
    Born in Hue, Viet Nam
    President of South Vietnam (1955-63)
    Shot to death during a US-supported coup
    He joined a monastery but dropped out.
    In the election to decide if South Vietnam should be a monarchy under Emperor Bao Dai or a republic under Diem, he won 98% of the vote, including 605,000 votes in Saigon, where there were only 400,000 registered voters (1955).
    His rule was marked by nepotism and corruption.
    His blatant favoritism towards the Catholic church alienated the 80% of the country that was Buddhist.
    When students joined monks in protesting against the government, he ordered mass arrests and sent children as young as five to re-education camps.
    He graduated from the School of Public Administration and Law at the head of his class.
    His hatred of Communism was driven partly by the fact that his brother Khoi had been burned alive by the Vietminh.
    He successfully cracked down on the crime syndicate that had run Saigon's brothels and gambling dens.
    The coup leaders offered him and his brother safe passage out of the country if they surrendered; instead they were executed in the back of an army personnel carrier.

Credit: C. Fishel

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