Yettaw, who is Mormon according to several news reports, is now in detention in a Burmese jail. Worse, he has managed to get Burma‘s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was nearing the end of house arrest under a 6-year sentence, arrested also.
Details of the incident are somewhat sketchy. Yettaw is said to be writing a ‘faith-based’ book on heroism. He traveled to Thailand and Burma earlier this month, and met with some of Suu Kyi’s supporters in Thailand. He entered Burma on May 2nd and the following day constructed makeshift flippers from a pair of sandals (see the Guardian article below for photos of the flippers), and used them and floating aids he constructed to swim 1 mile across Inya lake to reach Suu Kyi’s lakeside home.
When found, the 53-year-old Yettaw was asked to leave, but claimed that he was too exahusted from the swim and ended up sleeping on the ground floor of the house. He apparently also stayed a second night and then tried to swim back across the lake, but was detained by authorities in the attempt.
Under Burmese law, say news reports, foreigners may not stay in the homes of individuals. Since Suu Kyi is under house arrest (due to expire May 27th), she is also not permitted to have unauthorized visitors.
Yettaw was permitted to see a U.S. diplomat after a few days, but faces charges of entering a restricted area and contravening immigration regulations. Suu Kyi was arrested earlier this week, and formally charged today, and now faces up to five years in prison on charges for her role in permitting Yettaw to stay. Her trial begins May 18th.
Yettaw may have given the Burmese government an opportunity to keep Suu Kyi imprisoned or under house arrest for another five years, just as her previous imprisonment was about to end. Unfortunately, his reasons for his actions aren’t well known.
Reports indicate that Yettaw is a resident of Falcon, Missouri, a small town located west of Ft. Leonard Wood. If true, this would make Yettaw a member of teh Lebanon Ward, St. Robert Missouri Stake. Lebanon is about 120 miles south-west of St. Louis on I44, and about 40 miles north-east of Springfield, Missouri.
Aung San Suu Kyi intruder is Mormon and Vietnam vet.
John Yettaw, the American whose lake swim led to Suu Kyi’s arrest, was reportedly writing ‘faith-based’ book on heroism.
by Maev Kennedy and agencies
The Guardian, guardian.co.uk, 14 May 2009.
Suu Kyi Faces Jail After Uninvited Guest
By Hannah Beech
Time, May. 14, 2009
Burmese Activist Faces Hearing Today
Charges Stem From Unauthorized Visitor
By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post Staff Writer
Washington Post, May 14, 2009