This article was origionally published on The New York Times on October 6,2016 by Saw Nang
MANDALAY, Myanmar — A Dutch tourist who unplugged an amplifier that was broadcasting Buddhist chants, which he said disrupted his sleep, was sentenced to three months of hard labor in prison by a court here on Thursday.
The tourist, Klaas Haijtema, 30, was found guilty of causing a disturbance to an assembly engaged in religious worship. He had been staying at a hostel in Mandalay on Sept. 23 when a nearby Buddhist center began broadcasting the recitations of religious devotees.
“I was really tired that night and woke up to the noise,” Mr. Haijtema told the court during a hearing last week. “I was very angry and assumed that children were playing music. I told them to lower the volume of the loudspeakers before I unplugged the amplifier, and they didn’t understand me. That’s why I unplugged it.”
Mr. Haijtema wept after the prison sentence was announced. He was also fined the equivalent of $80 for violating the terms of his entry visa, which require visitors to obey Myanmar’s laws and customs. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, and Mandalay is a relatively conservative city.
Mr. Haijtema’s lawyer, U Hla Ko, said that he would file an appeal and that the Dutch Embassy should ask for Mr. Haijtema’s release. Attempts to contact an embassy representative on Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.
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