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February 27, 2018

Dutch citizen receives 3-month sentence and K100,000 fine for violating tourist visa rules/insulting religion

Dutch citizen seen after receiving the sentence.
Dutch citizen seen after receiving the sentence.

ONE Mr Klaas Haytema, who has been visiting Myanmar on a tourist visa from the Netherlands, was sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment and fined K100,000 by the Maha Aungmyay Township Judicial Court yesterday.
The man was found guilty by the court of trespassing onto the groups of a religious building whilst wearing shoes in order to unplug the cables of an amplifier that was blaring Buddhist chants in the middle of the night. The event occurred in Yadanabummi East Ward of Maha Aungmyay Township in Mandalay on 23 September.
“I wanted to 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 disconnected the amplifier.” Mr Haytema reportedly told the court.
It was reported that police had to be called to protect the man from an angry mob which formed once his actions became known.
After six hearings in court, the judge handed down his verdict under Section 296 of the Penal Code and the fine under Section 13/1 (violation of visa regulations).
“The section under which he was sentenced is for disturbing religion. The Section he was charged for was intentionally damaging a religion.” said U Hla Ko of the Myanmar Legal Aid Network.
Mr Haytema, 30, was staying at the Four Rivers Hotel situated near the hall at the time of the incident.
He said that he did not deliberately ‘insult religion’ by unplugging the offending speaker and that, in fact, he did not know that the hall was a religious building.
“I did not notice that it was a religious building. I am really sorry and I really apologise.” Mr Haytema reportedly said at one of his hearings.
The occused arrived in Mandalay on 20 September via Kunming, China, using a visa he had applied online, said the head of the Maha Aungmyay Township Immigration Department.


Aung Thant Khaing


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