Ar­rested dutch tourist was on first trip to Asia, wit­ness tells Man­dalay court

The Myanmar Times - - News - THAN NAING SOE thannaing­soe@mm­times.com

THREE more wit­nesses have given ev­i­dence in the trial of Dutch tourist Klaas Haytema, who was ar­rested last week on im­mi­gra­tion vi­o­la­tions and charges of of­fend­ing re­li­gious sen­ti­ment af­ter he un­plugged an am­pli­fier used to broad­cast a dhamma ser­mon.

The wit­nesses at the Septem­ber 30 hear­ing, the third so far in the case, were Po­lice Lieu­tenant Myint Lwin, town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tor U Myint Kyaing and ho­tel usher Ma Ziza­war.

While the tes­ti­mony of the po­lice of­fi­cer and town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tor were mostly pro­ce­dural, the ev­i­dence of the ho­tel usher pro­vided in­sight into the time­line of the night’s events.

Ma Ziza­war told the court that she had re­tired for the evening when she was con­tacted by an­other staff mem­ber of the ho­tel who told her that Mr Haytema had un­plugged the am­pli­fier at the com­mu­nity hall, and now there were prob­lems oc­cur­ring.

“The owner of our ho­tel phoned [Mr Haytema] and told him to apol­o­gise to the group of peo­ple who had gath­ered in front of the ho­tel,” she said. “As there were many peo­ple out­side, we de­cided to keep him from go­ing out­side to apol­o­gise as we were wor­ried for his safety.”

“Later, po­lice and the town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tor ar­rived at the ho­tel and took the man away as they were con­cerned for his safety,” she added.

Ma Ziza­war then gave ev­i­dence about com­ments Mr Haytema had made dur­ing the night’s events.

“He said that this was his first time vis­it­ing an Asian coun­try and that there were few Bud­dhists in places where he had been be­fore [prior to Man­dalay]. He said that there were warn­ing signs not to wear shoes in the pago­das he had vis­ited in Sa­gaing, Inwa and Amara­pura but he had not no­ticed any such signs when he en­tered into the Dham­ma­ry­one,” she said.

“He said that he thought the peo­ple were singing songs, not recit­ing a re­li­gious ser­mon. He said that he had ges­tured to the peo­ple in the hall once it was clear they had not un­der­stood what he said in English,” she added.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Ma Ziza­war told the court that Mr Haytema had apol­o­gised to the crowd once in­structed to do so by po­lice and said that he didn’t know the com­mu­nity hall had re­li­gious sig­nif­i­cance.

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

‘He said that this was his first time vis­it­ing an Asian coun­try and that there were few Bud­dhists in places where he had been be­fore.’

Ma Ziza­war

Ho­tel usher

He has been charged un­der sec­tion 295 of the pe­nal code for in­ten­tional in­sult to re­li­gious feel­ings or be­liefs. He is fac­ing ad­di­tional charges un­der im­mi­gra­tion laws for fail­ing to ad­here to the cus­toms and laws of Myan­mar.

In his ini­tial hear­ing on Septem­ber 28, a lawyer­less Mr Haytema apol­o­gised and blamed his con­duct on tired­ness. An­other hear­ing in the case will be held to­day.

Photo: Than Naing Soe

Dutch na­tional Klaas Haytema leaves court on Septem­ber 29.

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