Russian tourist who wore shoes inside Bagan pagodas refuses to pay K500,000 fine, gets one-month jail sentence

Seriously, how hard is it to understand ‘no shoes’? Photo: Flickr / imke.stahlmann
Seriously, how hard is it to understand ‘no shoes’? Photo: Flickr / imke.stahlmann

A tourist who was arrested for wearing shoes inside several Bagan pagodas has been sentenced to a month in jail.

Authorities say that the tourist, a Russian national, was given multiple warnings to take off her shoes but refused to comply.

Finally, locals went to the Nyaung-U police station and filed a case against the woman under Section 295 of the Penal Code for intentionally causing religious insult. Under the charge, the defendant faced a jail sentence of up to two years and/or a monetary fine.

“For days, she was walking around pagodas with her shoes on…. She would be given warnings and sent back to her hotel, but she kept returning and still wearing shoes on the pagodas. The locals couldn’t stand it anymore, which is why they opened a case against her under Section 295,” First Lieutenant Myo Nyunt of the Tourist Police Force told Eleven.

On August 1, the woman was ordered to pay a fine of MMK500,000. When she failed to do so, the judge handed down a one-month jail sentence.

In addition to the religious insult charge, the defendant is now also being tried under Section 13(1) of the Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act for violating visa regulations.

Last October, a Dutch tourist was found guilty under a similar religious insult charge after he unplugged a speaker at a Buddhist dhamma sermon taking place at a religious hall in Mandalay. Although he was sentenced to three months in jail, he managed to avoid an additional six-month sentence by paying a K100,000 fine.

We’re not lawyers, but we feel like someone should’ve also advised the Russian tourist that US$370 is a small price to pay to avoid a month in a Myanmar prison.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the tourist in question was a man. The defendant is a woman. We apologize for the error.

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