The American mystery man behind Aung San Suu Kyi's latest troubles
John Yettaw's unauthorized visit to the home of the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate may land her in jail for another five years. Final arguments for her speedy trial begin Monday.
(Page 2 of 2)
His current wife, Betty, confirmed his research interests, saying he wanted to talk to Suu Kyi to learn about how people cope with stress and abuse. ““He has no agenda whatsoever as far as the country goes. He really just wanted to have some comments from her, I believe,” she told the AP.Skip to next paragraph
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Yettaw gave a different reason when he testified in court Wednesday: He said he needed to warn Suu Kyi about a vision he’d had that terrorists were plotting to assassinate her and blame the government. He claimed to be “on a mission from God,” Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Nyan Win, was quoted in Democratic Voice of Burma, an expatriate media organization.
Apparently this vision had come to him twice. Yettaw tried – unsuccessfully – to visit Suu Kyi’s home last November.
“He said he was only here to warn us, as God told him to and that he loves Burmese people and has respect to the Burmese Police who are very well disciplined,” said Nyan Win.
How have people reacted?
Activists have lambasted Yettaw, frustrated that his visit gave the regime a reason to further punish Suu Kyi.
Betty Yettaw defends her husband. “He’s not crazy. He’s eccentric,” she told the AP.
“He’s a very peaceloving person, well-meaning, forgiving, mild-mannered. He meant the very best for her. I don’t think he could have foreseen that it was going to be such a mess, that they were going to make such a huge deal out of it,” she said. “He probably thought he would be in and out, and no one would know because that’s what happened before.”
What happened during his stay?
Four or five armed guards saw Yettaw as he approached Suu Kyi’s compound but didn’t try to stop him, said lawyer Nyan Win. “They were carrying guns with them but they didn’t do anything to stop him from approaching the house, apart from throwing some stones at him,” he said. One of Suu Kyi’s two assistants alerted her to the intruder around 5 a.m. on May 4, and she offered him “temporary shelter,” she testified on Tuesday. He left on the evening of May 5.
Suu Kyi says she didn’t report him to the authorities to avoid getting him in trouble. He was arrested while swimming away from her home.
Suu Kyi’s legal team has argued she can’t be held responsible for Yettaw’s visit. Instead the fault lies with the guards who allowed the security breach, it claims. None of them have been punished. "The fact that I am the only party being prosecuted shows the partiality of the prosecution," Suu Kyi said in a written statement to the court this week.
What charges does Yettaw face?
Yettaw faces up to five years in prison for illegally entering a restricted zone. Another charge, of breaking immigration laws, is punishable by up to one year in prison.