Dutch tourist charged, apol­o­gises for act seen as in­sult­ing re­li­gion

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - thannaing­soe@mm­times.com THAN NAING SOE – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

THE Dutch na­tional who un­plugged an am­pli­fier broad­cast­ing a Bud­dhist dhamma ser­mon in Man­dalay last week – lead­ing to a “re­li­gious in­sult” crim­i­nal charge – made a lawyer-less and re­morse­ful ini­tial ap­pear­ance at the Maha Aung Myay Town­ship Court yes­ter­day.

Dur­ing yes­ter­day’s hear­ing, judge U Win Naing ques­tioned U Thaung Dan, head of the Maha Aung Myay town­ship Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion De­part­ment, about ad­di­tional im­mi­gra­tion charges be­ing brought against the de­fen­dant.

“If some­one ap­plies for a visa to en­ter Myan­mar, they have to fol­low the rules and reg­u­la­tions laid out in the visa,” U Thaung Dan said. “Sec­tion 4[2] says, ‘I shall fol­low the ex­ist­ing laws of Myan­mar.’ It also says, ‘I will fol­low the cus­toms of Myan­mar.’ He is charged un­der sec­tion 13[1] be­cause he breached sec­tion 4[2].”

Klaas Haytema, the de­fen­dant, is ac­cused of dis­con­nect­ing the am­pli­fier at about 10pm on Septem­ber 23 out­side his ho­tel near Thusarita Dham­ma­ry­one, a Bud­dhist com­mu­nity hall in Maha Aung Myay town­ship.

Soldiers were sub­se­quently sum­moned to pro­tect the 30-year-old tourist from an an­gry crowd that had sur­rounded his ho­tel and de­manded that he be handed over to them, with the mob only dis­pers­ing af­ter au­thor­i­ties promised le­gal ac­tion against him.

Mr Haytema ap­peared with­out le­gal coun­sel yes­ter­day and an­swered ques­tions from the judge through an in­ter­preter.

“I was too tired on that day,” he said when asked to ex­plain his con­duct. “I wanted sleep des­per­ately. I couldn’t stand the noise and checked out­side the ho­tel. I saw that chil­dren were play­ing. I thought that they were play­ing it [the ser­mon] and I dis­con­nected the am­pli­fier. I did not no­tice that it was a re­li­gious build­ing. I am re­ally sorry and I re­ally apol­o­gise.”

The com­plainant who filed a charge un­der sec­tion 295 of the pe­nal code – cov­er­ing in­ten­tional in­sult to re­li­gious feel­ings or be­liefs – was not able to at­tend yes­ter­day’s hear­ing. His tes­ti­mony, as the giver of the ser­mon, is sched­uled to be heard to­day.

Mr Haytema did not re­spond to re­porters’ ques­tions about his case fol­low­ing the hear­ing yes­ter­day.

‘I did not no­tice that it was a re­li­gious build­ing. I am re­ally sorry and I re­ally apol­o­gise.’

Klaas Haytema De­fen­dant

PHOTO: THAN NAING SOE

De­fen­dant Klaas Haytema (cen­tre) ap­peared in court yes­ter­day with­out a lawyer and faced charges of de­fil­ing a place of wor­ship af­ter he al­legedly dis­con­nected an am­pli­fier dur­ing a Bud­dhist ser­mon at a com­mu­nity hall near his ho­tel in Man­dalay.

Photo: Than Naing Soe

Klaas Haytema (in green) makes an ap­pear­ance at the Maha Aung Myay Town­ship Court yes­ter­day.

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