Myanmar Detains Dutch Tourist, His Crime? Unplugging A Loudspeaker

Buddhist monks in Myanmar are growing increasingly intolerant of foreign visitors, most of whom have little knowledge about local religious sensitivities.

Myanmar Detains Dutch Tourist

Myanmar is increasingly growing intolerant towards foreign visitors when it comes to alleged incidents of disrespect of local culture and traditions.

Yet another tourist landed himself in hot water this year in the Southeast Asian nation after an angry crowd accused him of “insulting religion.”

Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist country.

Klass Haytema, a 30-year-old Dutch citizen, was detained on Sept. 23 when he allegedly unplugged a loudspeaker playing a late-night Buddhist sermon at a religious community hall in Mandalay.

"The religious hall is not far from the hotel where he was staying... he said he did it because it was too noisy for him," Kyi Soe, a local police chief, told AFP.

After Haytema pulled the plug, “an angry crowd” followed him back to his hotel, where he was held by the police. He was later taken to a prison.

"We detained him for insulting religion," Kyi Soe added.

Anadolu Agency reports Haytema was charged under “section 295 of the penal code for intending to insult religious feelings or beliefs, and under section 4 (2) and 13 (1) of the Myanmar Immigration Law.”

“We know it is quite noisy, but he should show respect to us and our religion,” Hla Myint, an officer with Myanmar’s tourist police unit, told the press agency.

If he is found guilty, Haytema faces a two-year jail term or a fine or it could be both.

For centuries, words like meditation and nirvana have been regularly attributed to Buddhism, which is widely perceived as the world's most peaceful and harmonious religion.

However, in Myanmar, religious nationalism (read: intolerance) has been on the rise since 2012, in the wake of a bloody anti-Islam hate campaign waged by Buddhist extremists against Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state.

Meanwhile, several foreigners have also been unreasonably targeted by Buddhist radicals. In July, for example, a Spanish couple vacationing in Bagan was detained after some Buddhist monks got offended by a Buddha tattoo on his leg.

Last year, a Kiwi bar manager in Myanmar spent nearly 10 months in jail for using a "psychedelic" depiction of Buddha in a Facebook photo to promote cheap drinks.

View Comments

Recommended For You