Anyone Know John William Yettaw?

May 14, 2009 | 57 comments
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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.

Sources:

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

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57 Responses to Anyone Know John William Yettaw?

  1. Dan on May 14, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I can’t help but ask, “What was he thinking?!?!?!”

  2. Last Lemming on May 14, 2009 at 10:28 am

    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.

    If he hadn’t, I suspect the junta would have found some other excuse.

  3. Kate G on May 14, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Nevertheless, this was very very selfish of him. I can’t imagine the consternation of this frail lady as she and her helpers struggled with not wanting to give him up to the brutal prison system of the Burmese government, while hosting an intrusive stranger, alone and unprotected.
    He’s a cruel man.

  4. Kent Larsen on May 14, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Dan (1), I’ve got it! He must have been thinking:

    Wouldn’t it be cool if Aung San Suu Kyi was a member of the LDS Church!!??!!

    [Big Grin]

  5. Kent Larsen on May 14, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Kate G (3), let’s not ascribe to cruelty what can adequately be explained by a lack of reasonable foresight.

    I agree that his actions had consequences that are or at least could be cruel for Suu Kyi.

    But I find it much more likely that he had a selfish motive — winning an interview that no one else could get, so that his book would sell more copies or attract more attention.

    It was unwise to attempt this, given the risks to all involved. But I doubt he considered the risks.

  6. Dan on May 14, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I mean, I realize Jesus taught us to visit those in prison, but really…

  7. bbell on May 14, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I think he acted unwisely to say the least.

    There is also a possibility he is RLDS since he is from Missouri. I would say most likely he is LDS but the facts are that Missouri has a lot of RLDS

  8. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 11:24 am

    The media has mentioned that his son Clint’s obituary identifies Clint as LDS. (Incidentally, Clint was born in Fontana, Calif., and John’s MIL, Dorris Brochu, lives in Monrovia, CA.)

    http://www.operationstop.com/obituaries2007-3.shtml

  9. Kari on May 14, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Who really cares if this guy is LDS or not? You find crazy people in every religion.

  10. John Mansfield on May 14, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Look at that Wikipedia timeline of her arrests:

    25 May 2007, house arrest extended one year.
    27 May 2008, house arrest extended one year.

    And here we are in May 2009. Being close to ending her arrest, but then extending it, is just what the Burmese government does with this woman in May.

  11. Myo on May 14, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Let’s not forget she should not be under arrest in the first place. The brutal regime will find the ways to keep her in prison no matter what happened. You cannot fight the devil with angel mindset. Sadly, that is what she is doing.

  12. PG on May 14, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Maybe Suu Kyi is another woman who should get an order of protection against Yettaw (see Brown v. Yettaw, 116 S.W.3d 733, 2003).

  13. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 11:47 am

    [... ...] Similarly, last week[...]the Jew-or-not question came up several times at a staff meeting. Then after the meeting I got a text from a colleague who missed the conversation. Same question. I replied that I wasn’t sure. But what I was really wondering was why we care. So I e-mailed Tzvee Zahavy, a rabbi and Talmudic scholar who often asks Jew-or-not on his blog.

    “I speculate that Jews do it to be proud of other Jews of accomplishment or, when it involves scoundrels, to be prepared to defend the tribe if confronted with the facts,“ he wrote back. “Non-Jews do it to confirm their suspicions about Jewish conspiracies or just more innocently to clear up why someone has a funny name.“

    Some do it, I suspect, because they don’t know how not too. They hear a Jewish sounding name or see someone with curly hair and poor eyesight and their Jewdar goes nuts. As Jon Carroll wrote last month for the San Francisco Chronicle:

    “I have known people who had an overexcited Jewdar sense, and they were always willing to share. ‘Meryl Streep? Jewish. Of course. Clint Eastwood? Jewish. Flipper? Jewish dolphin. Everyone knows that.’” [... ...]

    http://www.jewishjournal.com/thegodblog/item/is_phillip_markoff_jewish_20090426/

  14. Vader on May 14, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Myo, your point is a good one. It sounds like Yettaw was engaging in a stunt, and a foolish one, but I’m not so sure we should be rushing off to the side of the jack-booted thugs.

  15. Kent Larsen on May 14, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Kari (9), I tried to get comments about this issue last week on my post When Should The News Mention Religious Affiliation, and I would invite anyone to bring up concerns in this vein there.

    I will say, however, that apparently Yettaw brought it up in conversations in Suu Kyi’s home (her doctor, who visits the home regularly, knew about his religion, according to news reports) and, since the Burmese media knew about it, it appears he may have made an issue of it after his arrest.

    As for why its of interest to us here on T&S, I think there are possible repercussions for the Church. Currently there is no LDS presence in Burma (aka Myanmar), so I assume someone (perhaps the Asia Area President, or perhaps the Bankok Thailand Mission President) is responsible for working to get the door open.

    This incident might be a little difficult for that person to explain in a (hypothetical) meeting with government representatives.

  16. Kent Larsen on May 14, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Myo (11) wrote:

    You cannot fight the devil with angel mindset.

    While I see most of your point, I don’t think this is completely true. There is the example of Ghandi and King, for example. I’m not sure that I would call them angels per se, but the non-violent example they set is certainly much more an angel mindset than not.

    This is truly one of the admirable things about Suu Kyi–that she has managed to avoid violence.

    Of course, it is also an area where the World must hang its head in shame, given that so little has been done by governments to put pressure on the junta.

  17. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Breaking news: Neigbor says Yettaw didn’t talk that much to him. Details at eleven.

    CNN telephoned the neighbor of the man who the London Evening Standard has dubbed “The Milk Tray human rights activist” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1pg1zpNgB0) John Yettaw.

    Mike Assell: “I think he wasn’t really afraid to talk to folks, but he really was not outgoing and went out of his way to stop and talk too much. He has his own — I don’t know if agenda’s the right word — he has his priorities and he is working toward those.”

  18. Dave on May 14, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Yes, it sounds like Mr. Yettaw was engaged in a publicity stunt, drumming up material for his next book. On the other hand, it gives the US media the hook it needs to bump the resulting round of stories about the treatment of Suu Kyi from page 15 to page 1. And that’s probably a good thing.

    I agree that her house arrest would likely have been extended without this stunt. The difference is that now a lot more people will be watching.

  19. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Either an LDS-themed, unpublished memoirist or that’s his cover.

  20. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    His family’s not speaking to the press bespeaks professionalism more than crankery IMO.

  21. Tod Robbins on May 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    “The lawyers say Yettaw is a Mormon who prayed continually at Suu Kyi’s house. The American told Burmese exiles in Thailand he was writing a “faith-based” book on heroism.

    US embassy officials were finally given access to Yettaw a week after he was arrested, in the presence of several police and security officials.

    “He would not go into any details about his stay in the house,” said an embassy spokesman. “He seems to have a very strong religious reason for his actions.”

    Yettaw’s stepson, Paul Nedrow, emailed the Associated Press to say that his stepfather did not mean to cause problems for the Burmese opposition leader. “I know that John is harmless and not politically motivated in any way. He did not want to cause Suu Kyi any trouble,” he said.

    Nedrow said his stepfather’s judgment may have been affected by diabetes which “could cause him to become disoriented and be unable to make wise choices”.

    Suu Kyi is being held at Insein prison near Rangoon. Her doctor, Tin Myo Win, and her companion, Khin Khin Win, and Win’s daughter, Win Ma Ma, who have lived with the Burmese opposition leader since she was placed under house arrest in 2003, were also arrested.”

    Looks like he has some mental instability. I feel bad about the whole situation. I am part of the U.S. Campaign for Burma and have followed and lobbied for Suu Kyi’s release. This is really unfortunate press for the Mormons.

  22. Tod Robbins on May 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Just found this:

    http://www.bnd.com/336/story/768840.html

    It gets stranger and stranger.

  23. Tod Robbins on May 14, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    This is John Yettaw on May 13, 2009, being interviewed by US diplomats and Myanmar officials.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/slideshow/ALeqM5iyn3pb2TSDq8IJh9OJV4XP7CBr-gD98669900?index=0

  24. Chris Bate on May 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    If John Yettaw is a Vietnam Vet, that would put him in country no earlier than 1973 at the age of 17. I’m not sure that works.

  25. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Family members say Yettaw still is in debt for the expenses incurred from his previous trip to Burma. (It’s said that he also had swimmed over to Suu Kyi’s residence on this earlier trip but had only talked with members of her staff.)

    He receives disability payments from the V.A. for serving in Vietnam (which ended, btw, when Yettaw was 19 years old). He had once been a Ph.D. student at School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute in Springfield, Missouri. He has only worked part time during the past 20 years as a constuction general contractor. Yettaw is in the process of constructing a new home for his current family, which lives at the site in the temporary structure of a trailer-home.

  26. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Is Yettaw his own man? one subject to manic whims (per his family’s explanations), who went on a Quixotic but completely non-political mission to both deliver a bible to Suu Kyi (per the Guardian) and, as a Ph.D. student in psychology, gain an interview with a person who has been subjected to psychological stress?

    (Perhaps he was going to paint her portrait too?)

  27. Justmeherenow on May 14, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Hasenfus ): Eugene H. Hasenfus (born January 22, 1941 in Florida) is a United States citizen who was an unemployed construction worker and former marine from Marinette, Wisconsin who secured work as a cargo handler for the

    Central Intelligence Agency.

  28. aloysiusmiller on May 14, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    This is all pretty sad. Burma could really have used a Pinochet style leader some years ago. Look at the suffering that this benign neglect of Burma by the West has caused.

  29. notimportant on May 14, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    I actually have met this guy when i was crossing the Thai Burma border last year. We chatted for a while, and he is a really lovely man. I agree that he did make some foolish decisions, and may have not thought out the consequences, but please do not rubbish him. He shared with me a bit about what he wants to accomplish, and he truly has great motives. He is an amazing Christian man, so please accept that what he has done was wrong, but move on. Imagine how he is feeling right now knowing the trouble he has caused.

  30. Kent Larsen on May 15, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Justmeherenow (27), please make a connection for us between Hasenfus and Yettaw. I don’t understand why you’ve included this information here.

  31. Justmeherenow on May 15, 2009 at 9:45 am

    ‘Tis but the basis for the conspiracy theory that part-time construction work + international travel = “CIA,” FWIW, Kent (…which is, of course, probably nothing!)

  32. Tod Robbins on May 15, 2009 at 11:30 am

    @notimportant

    Very interesting. Thank you for your comment. I really hope this all works out. At least his mistake has brought more attention to her in the international press again. This country deserves better.

  33. Justmeherenow on May 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    John’s neighbor on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/14/myanmar.suukyi/#cnnSTCVideo In short: Brilliant guy, travelled a lot.

    The NYT: “American adventurer, John Yettaw, 53…swam across a lake to her house where, according to her lawyer, he delivered her a Bible, although she is a Buddhist.”

    The Times of London:

    “Doris Brochu, Mrs Yettaw’s mother, said[...]‘He can be very nice. He is very well spoken and educated, but he has a bad side to him. He has a good side and a bad side.’

    “Mr Yettaw met his future wife while working as a building contractor in southern California. About 20 years ago the couple moved to a part of Missouri where Mr Yettaw’s father had land and started a family. They had six children including Clint, who died in the motorcycle crash two years ago at the age of 17.

    “Craig Dehner, Mrs Yettaw’s son from a previous marriage, said yesterday that Mr Yettaw blamed himself for Clint’s death. ‘I read an e-mail he has sent my other brother. He said: “Since Clint’s death, I’ve felt like a failure.” He let Clint do what he wanted. He probably felt responsible because he let him have a motorcycle.’

    “Mr Yettaw and his family lived in a mobile home on 160 acres of unfarmed land outside Falcon, Missouri. He became involved with the Mormon church in the nearby town of Lebanon.

    “For many years, Mr Yettaw received a small disability pension from the US Government, according to his former mother-in-law. But he also received college grants to study to be a doctor. ‘He has never held a job,’ Mrs Brochu said. ‘He has always been in school. It was school grant, school grant, school grant.’

    “Just over two years ago, Mr Yettaw did have some good fortune when he won a claim for a 100 per cent disability pension from the US Government. Flush with the money, he paid off a car loan for his ex-wife. They divorced about five years ago and he has since remarried.

    “Mr Yettaw, who is diabetic, took his son Brian, now 17, to Asia for three months last year, removing him from school. Relatives said that the two went to Burma and Mr Yettaw also planned to visit Iran and Iraq.

    “Mrs Brochu said: ‘He told me he was going to Iraq. I told him: “You’re not taking my grandson over there.” He said “no”.

    “‘He said he was writing a book. He said he was looking for Americans who went missing in action. He was trying to do a thesis. I was very upset because he has left his kids just strewn all over the place.’”

  34. Justmeherenow on May 15, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    CNN: “Some neighbors who were unwilling to give their names described him as an Army veteran who struggled with drinking and post-traumatic stress disorder. Others said he was an activist type, whose only political agenda was to help others even if it meant charting new territory.”

  35. Col. Trautman on May 16, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    John William Yettaw has a lot in common with John Rambo when you think about it.

    John William Yettaw = John Rambo

  36. B. Erith on May 16, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    For the record: Some of you are way off base in your guessing. He has no agenda. He is not an activist, nor CIA. He simply wanted to write about the effects of trauma and the part forgiveness and resilience play in the survival of torture, imprisonment and natural disasters. Last year when he was in Thailand he heard for the first time of Aung San Suu Kyi and was struck by her bravery and resolve. He has great respect for her. He wanted to interview her and saw a way. On the first visit he brought her literature simply as a gift. Some of it was poetry. Nothing to do with changing her religion – He knew she is a devout Buddhist.
    After backpacking across China, Viet Nam, Cambodia and Thailand, his son flew home and he went to Burma alone figuring it might not be safe for him. There are too many untruths and inaccuracies that have been irresponsibly reported even by AP who one would think could be trusted to check out the facts. The family’s privacy has been invaded at this difficult time. Comments have been printed that sound as if they are straight out of a tabloid. John is a good and loving father who has provided plenty of supervision for his children in his absence despite comments to the contrary. He took one child to CA to stay with his grandmother because he had been doing well there the year before. He had been having problems in school in Missouri. Only three were left behind from April 15 until May 17 when their mother will arrive to attend an 8th grade graduation and fly two of them back to CA for the summer. They are honor students and well adjusted children, very self-reliant and a credit to the upbringing they have had. In the meantime the boy who was meant to stay put in CA was allowed to fly back to Missouri enabling his mother to claim that he abandonned four children when he left. Ask yourself the question why they are in the custody of their father and not their mother. It’s a matter of public record since so many of you are eager to dig into their business. If any of you are parents ask yourself if you would move out of state away from your children and end up with very little visitation due to the distance. Who has abandoned whom here?
    As for John and his plight, his actions were very ill advised but I’m sure he had no idea of the hornet’s nest it would stir up. He is probably as upset over the Lady’s troubles as he is his own. If you read the news of the week previous to the incident, the government had already given formal notice to her lawyers that her house arrest was going to be extended yet another year. If anything, this miserable affair has brought her problem to the attention of many who might have never heard of her otherwise.
    Thank you, Notimportant, for your comment (28). He has left that impression with many. This is a man who has had many tragedies in his life. A traumatic childhood, disastrous marriage, a fire several years ago in which the family lost virtually everything, the loss of his 17 yr old son, for whom he is still deeply grieving. He has struggled with many demons. Yet he is known locally as a man who feeds the poor, gives veterans rides wherever they need to go, puts them up for a night in a motel when they are homeless, empties his pockets to any beggar who asks. He helped beggars repeatedly in Asia and was torn by their problems. He was known to seat a beggar at the table, give them his own newly ordered meal and then walk away. We should all try that – it’s a great way to lose 50 pounds.
    That book he is writing is not for personal gain. It was to have been totally to benefit some humanitarian causes. It now will have to pay his travel and legal debts and the remainder go to that orphanage in Viet Nam, the Agent Orange Villages, and many more of the needy places he encountered in his travels.
    Imagine this extremely intelligent, sensitive and tender hearted man and the misery he might be feeling at it all having gone so wrong. Poor innocent Daw Suu Kyi and even her companions in trouble over letting him stay. I’m sure it all came about in a natural course of events. He failed to interview her the first visit, felt motivated to try it again, no one the wiser, but this time in ill health he stays a while, leaves later, possibly struggles in the water, gets caught and causes all of this trouble. I truly believe he had no political agenda, acted on his own and has unwittingly drawn others into the trouble. It’s hard to see a good outcome for this sad situation. His only political belief is that Burma should not be pushed, change should come gradually, based on forgiveness and trust. Dream on.
    Rambo he’s not, but nice guy with good intentions that went awry, yes definitely. I hope some of you can see your way to go easy on the criticism and give him the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe it’s called Forgiveness. Hmm. There’s that concept again….

  37. NOYDMB on May 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Erith.
    It’s too hard to forgive when you’re standing on your blog-rameumptum, judging others for not being as intelligent as yourself. Trust me, we all do it. That’s what the bloggernacle is for.

  38. anonymous on May 17, 2009 at 11:51 am

    re comment #35, “There are too many untruths and inaccuracies that have been irresponsibly reported even by AP who one would think could be trusted to check out the facts.”

    As far as I can see, AP and others did check out the facts to the best of their ability, since they quote family members and the ex-wife. Since Yettaw himself is in jail, what other sources of information are available?

    If B. Erith knew all these details – most of which certainly cannot just be Googled – -why didn’t he or she offer them earlier, rather than second-guessing the press?

  39. rain-mom on May 17, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    How does a man who doesn’t have a job support his children? Who’s picking up the slack for him?

  40. snookertony on May 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    He only heard about Suu Kyi last year!
    Where’s he been living all his life? (..and if I may be selfish for a minute – it’s a pity he didn’t stay there).
    If he’s immersed himself so deeply in his own life surely he needs help with outsiders.
    Also the fact that his religion is being mentioned so often should automatically puts him into the headcase basket. Any person who goes around believing in fairy tales and living their lives accordingly should immediately be taken as mentally suspect.
    All we can hope is that he broadens his mind and realises how the world works.

  41. Justmeherenow on May 17, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Rainmom (#38), according to his former mother-in-law, Doris Brochu, Yettaw lived on the payments he got due to his PTSD from the Vietnam war, supplemented by school grants; then two years ago he qualified for full disability. His father had owned 160 unfarmed acres in Missouri, so he his first wife (who he’d met her while he was a building contractor in southern Cali.) moved there about 20 years ago.

  42. Mati on May 18, 2009 at 4:56 am

    This is another selfish act that has landed an innocent person to suffer and took away her hope for freedom. Along with her hope he took away the hopes of a whole nation for any chances of a better life. This is a callous and criminal act. There’s no excuse for such acts, his family and friends and him should be ashamed of his acts. Stop excusing yourselves (that goes for you B Erith, what were you his advisor? you are referring to a leader of a nation by calling her lady? shame on you), accept responisibility and start apologising to Suu Kyi and her Nation …whatever your reasons for doing what you did they are not good enough.
    I’m not naive i understand the Burmese government could have found other excuses for extending her house arrest but that would have been a different battle all together.
    How do we know that the government is not involved in this anyway? He sounds like a desperate guy that would easily be bought …is it really unlucky and accidental what has just happened? Is it really caused by the ignorance of a selfish act or is this a planned action made to look accidental …nothing would surprise me in fact the latter sounds more like it.
    How sad, how very sad…all my love is going out to Suu Kyi and her battered nation, we need to meditate, pray or whatever else one can do to send all our positive energy to them but mainly we need to try and educate people around us and try to stop callous acts like these from ever happening again.
    Myo how can you say what you said? Are you forgetting Mandela, Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Jesus Christ and many others that have fought their cause with love and forgiveness and Influenced millions of people around the world to be better human beings? Our world as we know it has changed and keeps changing because of people like her and them.
    This is not about how Suu Kyi has chosen to fight her battle but about a selfish individual that puts his book and his personal gain/development above the fate of a whole Nation

  43. tweetie on May 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I’ve been following this case and have been reading many comments from people on various news sites. I can honestly say that the comments on this site from the likes of Mati, Snookertony, Annonymous, and NOYDMB are among the harshest and most judgmental that I’ve come across so far.

    This article is entitled, “Any One Know John William Yettaw?” but it seems that nobody particularly cares what the one person qualified to answer that question has to say. Those mentioned appear to have their minds made up about who he is, based on what you have read in the media. I can understand why many do not condone Mr. Yettaw’s actions, given their consequences. However, I also know that you cannot believe everything you read in the news – especially in pieces like the trash for which Mati provided a link on post 42.

    From what I can tell, after reading the comments here, it looks like some of you have strong reactions because you think Mr. Yettaw has brought about negative publicity to the Mormon faith. That is unfortunate. Because I can tell you, if anyone is an embarrassment to the faith, it’s those of you sitting now on your high horse casting hypocritical judgment on your fellow man. Specifically, “shame on you,” Mati, for the drivel that you have posted here and “Shame on you” for passing judgment on others – If you knew anything about Aung San Suu Kyi, you would know that the Burmese people call her “Lady” as a term of respect.

    In closing, I’d like to remind you of Jesus Christ’s words in Matthew 7:1-5. Perhaps it rings a bell???

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with the judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

  44. K on May 19, 2009 at 3:15 am

    Something wrong with the whole story. This guy could never have swam through the lake to arrive unnoticed at Suu Kyi’s home. He could not have slept on the floor of her home two nights without security noticing him.

    I have been to Yangoon. It is impossible to even get near Suu Kyi’s home. There are barricades and security forces everywhere. This could not have happened without the junta knowing about it.

    Yet another staged political drama in Yangoon.

  45. bvongrabe on May 19, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I agree. This story thinks from the bottom up. Crazy or not, why would anyone, even an American fly from Missouri to Burma, swim at night accross a lake, enter a house, is asked to leave but doesn’t because suddenly he has chest pains . . .
    Come on, now.
    Oh, and being unemployed and on Disability this is not the first time he flew there. He did so last year, too.
    I have an idea: does the CIA owe the Junta? Let’s have Nancy Pelosi ask Leon Panetta!

  46. rta on May 19, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    If he has 53 years old, he was born in 1956, so he shouldbe a Vietnam vet of 1974 or 1975 (Frequent Wind? Mayaguez? Marine guard embassy?) I really don´t believe he is a Vietnam vet, it´s difficult believe he was in combat in Vietnam. Well, it´s difficult.

  47. Justmeherenow on May 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    It’s possible. Although lads weren’t drafted at 17, they could enlist. In any case, the war ended when Yettaw was 19.

  48. Bob on May 19, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    oh wow… that is just ridiculous. I mean, seriously, I can’t imagine what this guy was thinking.

  49. Bob on May 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    However, ‘tweetie’, I mostly agree with you- still, there is no point in saying what you said since even if many of the ‘facts’ are wrong, there is no doubt that he could have just lengthened her house arrest by 5 years. And ok, so he has people angry with him- so? He can just go back home and continue with his life, while Aung San Suu Kyi has 5 more years of house arrest.

  50. B. Erith on May 20, 2009 at 3:58 am

    Interesting comments, many showing that you have not thoroughly gleaned what is in the news.
    Have you seen the picture of her compound from the lake? It was just that – a house on a lake, guarded at the rear only by the law against swimming there and the fears of an oppressed people. No one accounted for a gutsy Yank who just paddled up and knocked on the door. (despite the use of the words sneaked, broke in, etc.) Mentioned early on repeatedly is that guards rarely entered her compound. Impenetrable from the street, yes, but not the back. But now behold, there is a board fence and rolls of barbed wire where once only weeds impeded the lake view…. Too little too late?

    He is going back home? After he has served the total of 11 years with which they have charged him ? There are no ‘givens’ here.

    As to his service, Vietnam ERA vets did not have to necessarily have been in combat or actually in that country. And of course it is possible to suffer a head wound or PTSD without having been in actual combat.

    His religion being mentioned often by the press, not him, makes him a “headcase” and “mentally suspect” ?

    Tweetie, yours is the most sensible and sound comment I’ve seen anywhere. So many are judging him on the basis of the bitter comments of an ex-wife and mother-in-law that were NOT checked out by AP. Although very innacurate in most cases, they were too juicy to leave out. This apparently smoked out the privacy loving present wife who made comments to counter the damaging ones, but many were too busy digesting the tabloid junk food provided by the ex and her mother to take these closer-to-facts into consideration. As the wife didn’t indulge in mud slinging herself, maybe it failed to catch their attention. It was mentioned by her that the first trip was not yet paid for. Credit cards – ah yes….

    This incident has touched a nerve and made the world aware of Daw Suu Kyi’s greatness and courage. Is that not a good thing in itself? Excuse me for indulging in more conjecture here, but judging a person or situation on the basis of innacuracies and guesswork and maybes; could that be a sign of our own inadaquacies of thought and/or downright sloppy journalism? Could it be a good lesson to all of us on the benefits of wait and see? Much more may come to light. I’m all for keeping my judgments and accusations in check until this is resolved and revealed. We should be praying that the actual judge in this trial is a wise soul who can see the truth and pronounce whatever sentences with fairness.

  51. rta on May 20, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Ok Erith, I only say it´s difficult believe that Yettaw was in combat in Vietnam. I´m not saying Yettaw was or wasn´t there. All newspappers and page I read nouns Yettaw is 53 years old (so he was born in 1956), and he had PTSD caused by combat experience. Well at least he must be in country, I think. And yes, he could be in Vietnam with 16 or 17 years old, why not? There´s a Vietnam vet´s name in The Wall of only 15 years old. Why not? But, with this type of people is very difficult see truth or lie.

  52. Justmeherenow on May 20, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I messed up my last post, sorry

  53. Justmeherenow on May 20, 2009 at 10:30 am

    The Venerable [[Ashin Mettacara]] (a Buddhist monk and the winner of the Best News award among Asian bloggers for last year) gives Yettaw’s birthdate plus additional vital statistics, apparently taken from Yettaw’s passport, in Mettacara’s post of May 14 entitled “American Made John Yettaw: A fool engineered by the Myanmar government” as 6-9-1955 (as does the site MoeMaKa News & Media, although in Burmeses script). Since Burmese uses the international norm of day-month-year, this means Yettaw was born on 6 September 1955. Which birthdate is confirmed by the site Birthdatabase.com (although this site’s two listings indentify Yettaw’s place of birth as being either Covina, Calif., or La Verne, Calif.; each of which, however, is in the vicinity of the other in East L.A.).

  54. Dave Takaki on May 27, 2009 at 12:41 am

    I concur with many of the above comments that Yettaw is unlikely to be a “plant” by SPDC. I also believe he is responsible for his self-centered actions.

    Any of the proffered equivocations seeking to ameliorate his acts are just that, and it is beyond my comprehension that such a determined individual could not anticipate the danger and harm he was likely to cause by his acts.

    Forgiveness? That would be the Buddhist way, but he should own his culpability, and understand how his selfish focus unleashed these events. Absent this, I seriously doubt spiritual growth will be engendered to Mr. Yettaw.

    Dave Takaki

  55. Retired Diplomat on May 28, 2009 at 11:10 am

    To Erith –

    This writer has spent 40 plus years of life overseas – assigned by the U.S. government to work in various areas of the world.

    I have traveled quite widely, and while visiting in Burma, had no difficulty driving down the street past the Aung San residence.

    In every country where I lived, I have had dealings with crackpot Americans, various of whom were repatriated to the U.S., at taxpayers expense. These individuals are even sometimes able to return abroad, and cause serious problems again. (I recall the wealthy American woman with the (publicly declared) delusion that she was married to the King of Morocco.) Because of our overweening wealth and little checked political power, such situations regularly occur in almost every country, except perhaps North Korea, where they won’t give us visas.

    The people who defend Mr. Yettaw in this blog are, in my judgement, fools……quite blinded by their religious certainties. Most know little or nothing of theravada Buddhism, but like bigots everywhere THINK THEY ARE RIGHT. And they further can’t accept that Yettaw is a marginal, confused and hopeless product of our society, which both tolerates and avoids people like him. On the face of it, Yettaw merits little pity, being as described above, for so many years irresponsibly a burden to his family, society, and the VA.

    Hey – Yettaw had absolutely no business butting into the Burmese political mess. He was just on his self appointed god mission – bringing along a gift bible. The people who think well of him should publicly apologize for the fact that he has contributed to the noble Aung San’s suffering and eventual ruin. By the way, Yettaw’s actions are familiar self-importance delusions – no one with experience in foreign affairs would accept that he was taking part in an orchestrated plot. That’s for conspiracy theory nuts out in the wild blue yonder.

    I frankly expect that for his midnight swim, Mr. Yettaw will get a little wake-up and learning experience in the Burmese political prison in Mandalay…..but hopefully not too much time before release and repatriation to the U.S. Otherwise, we must further undergo the yammerings from a wide chorus of stateside religious fools – already convinced of his, and their own, righteousness.

  56. Ugly Mahana on May 28, 2009 at 11:37 am

    For the record, I see precious few here who sympathize with Yettaw. Furthermore, the religious argument appears to be a general call not to judge. I see no religious argument put forward to justify Yettaw’s actions.

    On a personal level, when I heard that an American had broken into Aung San Suu Kyii’s house, I was sickened. That Yettaw is mormon does nothing to ameliorate my sorrow for what happened and its effects. I view the claim that Yettaw saw himself on a mission to deliver a religious message as evidence of his own delusions, not as a mark of religious heroism.

    It should be obvious to anyone familiar with the LDS missionary program that Yettaw was acting on his own, far outside of that program. Unfortunately, foolish zealotry can be found in any endeavor that involves humans. The zealot Yettaw must own his own delusion and answer for his own actions. His mormonism cannot offer explanation or excuse.

    Again, I mourn Yettaw’s actions, and the effects that flow therefrom.

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