Dutch citizen Klaas Haytema, 30, above, is awaiting trial on a charge of insulting religion by disconnecting an amplifier broadcasting a late-night sermon from a Buddhist hall in the tourist city of Mandalay in northern Myanmar.
Haytema, according to this report, silenced the amplifier because:
I wanted to sleep desperately. I couldn’t stand the noise. I am really sorry and I really apologise.
The man who was reciting the sermon pressed charges against Haytema for insulting the Buddhism.
A local legal officer decided that the alleged offence was serious enough to warrant a criminal trial. The offence carries a two-year jail sentence.
In a further blow to Haytema, immigration officials have also charged him with violating the terms of his visa.
Local immigration department head Thaung Dan said that Haytema had breached two provisions in the visa: that visitors should follow the existing laws of Myanmar, as well as the customs of Myanmar.
If someone applies for a visa to enter Myanmar, they have to follow the rules and regulations laid out in the visa.
Mandalay is an especially culturally and religiously conservative region.
An online flyer promoting Blackwood’s VGastro bar and restaurant included a “psychedelic” depiction of Buddha wearing headphones and was used in 2014 to promote cheap drinks at the venue. Blackwood was released on amnesty 10 months into his sentence.
In July, a Spanish tourist was reportedly kicked out of Myanmar after monks in the ancient town of Bagan took offence over an exposed Buddha tattoo on one of his legs.
Meanwhile, it is reported here that nine Australians were arrested for stripping down to brief swimwear at the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.
The group, branded the “Budgie Nine”, were charged with public nuisance, which carries a fine but no jail time.
In a letter read out in court, they apologised and expressed their “deepest regret”.
They said the incident was “purely an error of judgement” on their behalf.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake and BarrieJohn (Malaysia report)