Myanmar court jails Dutchman for three months for disrupting Buddhist sermon

October 17, 2016
Buddhist monks walk inside the Masoyein monastery complex in Mandalay October 7, 2015. Buddhist-majority Myanmar goes to the polls on November 8 in an election billed as Myanmar’s first free and fair ballot in 25 years. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi last month urged supporters not to let the issues of race and religion dominate the parliamentary election, while critics have branded her National League for Democracy (NLD) too sympathetic to Muslims and unwilling to protect Buddhism. Picture taken October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Silva - RTX1U6V7

(Buddhist monks walk inside a monastery  in Mandalay October 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

A Myanmar court has sentenced a Dutch tourist to three months in prison and a fine after he unplugged a public address system that was relaying a Buddhist sermon, his lawyer said.

Klaas Haytema, 30, was arrested after he entered a community hall in the central city of Mandalay on Sept. 23 and disrupted a recitation by Buddhist laymen.

Haytema told a court hearing he was unaware a religious ceremony was in progress, but disconnected the hall’s loudspeakers because they were disturbing his sleep, said Hla Ko, a Myanmar lawyer who volunteered to represent the Dutchman.

Sermons broadcast through the night using loudspeakers are a common practice in the Southeast Asian country, where the vast majority of people are Buddhists.

A judge convicted Haytema of “causing disturbance to an assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship,” Hla Ko told Reuters.

“He was found guilty under Section 296 of the Penal Code and sentenced to three months in prison,” the lawyer said, adding that a fine of about $80 was also paid on Haytema’s behalf for breaching Myanmar’s rules on respecting its culture.

“I plan to lodge an appeal for him against the verdict,” Hla Ko added.

Source: Myanmar court jails Dutchman for three months for disrupting Buddhist sermon | Reuters

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