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Tourists’ Porn Video Shot at Myanmar’s Bagan World Heritage Site Provokes Outrage

By Zarni MannThe Irrawaddy, Fri, February 14, 2020

Hot air balloons float above the ancient temples of Bagan, a World Heritage Site, at sunrise. / The Irrawaddy

MANDALAY—A pornographic video clip shot at the World Heritage-listed ancient city of Bagan in central Myanmar has provoked widespread outrage on social media and prompted calls for the government to impose harsher punishments on badly behaved tourists.

The pornographic video, which was shot at a small pagoda in Bagan—numbered 1554—features two foreign tourists and was apparently uploaded on a pornography website in December 2019.

Residents of Bagan and people working in the tourism industry expressed shock after the 12-minute-long clip was shared among Myanmar Facebook users on Wednesday.

“We were shocked by that video and feel terribly sad. Having sex outdoors and at religious buildings and pagodas is intolerable—moreover, it was in Bagan, our precious heritage of religion, culture and history,” said Ko Myo Sat San of Save Bagan, a local civil society group.

Locals urged the government to blacklist the couple who made the video. They are believed to have left Myanmar.

“We urge the government authorities to blacklist them and never allow them to visit Myanmar in the future,” said Ko Myo Sat San.

A description accompanying the video on the porn site, PornHub, said the couple, both aged 23, were from Italy. Their account on the site has over 80,000 followers.

Bagan, an archaeological zone and one of Myanmar’s major tourist attractions, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2019.

Bagan houses over 3,000 pagodas and temples dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries. The 42-square-mile (108-sq.-km) plain receives hundreds of tourists every day.

Both foreigners and locals are prohibited from wearing shorts or inappropriate dresses, especially at pagodas, temples and religious buildings.

Wearing shoes, shorts, tops that reveal skin such as spaghetti tops and bikini tops, nudity and inappropriate behavior such as kissing in religious buildings or on their grounds are strictly prohibited in Myanmar.

“These two foreign tourists are individual travelers who came on their own itinerary. Whoever they are and with whatever agenda they bring, they should respect the host country’s religion and culture. Their behavior is totally inappropriate and insulting to the country,” Ko Myo Sat San said.

Locals also urged government authorities to act quickly to identify the two tourists and put more effort into promoting responsible tourism.

In early February, two Chinese tourists drove their car up to a manmade hill to watch the sunset and sat down with a case of beer in an attempt to hold a beer party. The Department of Archaeology and National Museum in Bagan sued the pair under the Protection and Preservation of Ancient Monuments Law.

The court in Nyaung-U Township sentenced them to a fine of 300,000 kyats ($206), which is the minimum punishment allowable under the law. Many criticized the punishment as too lenient.

According to the law, violators can be sentenced to between 6 months and 15 years in prison, or a fine of between 300,000 and 1,500,000 kyats.

“Bagan is a sacred place in Myanmar and everyone who visits the country must behave properly and respect it. Our country’s tourism is culture-based tourism, so such an insult should not be accepted or repeated,” said U Myo Win of the Mandalay Tourist Guide Society, referring to the porn video.

“The Bagan plain is so wide, with so many pagodas, which get hundreds of visitors, so no one can watch over it the whole time. We need the government authorities’ help to impose strict rules with harsher punishments and set an example to prevent such bad behavior in the future,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Archaeology and National Museum in Bagan, which operates under the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, said an investigation into the two tourists was under way in collaboration with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

“The investigation into the couple is under way, but it is like searching for a needle in a haystack, because we do not exactly know when the video was made or who exactly they are. If we know who they are and which country they are from, we can contact their embassy and take the necessary steps to blacklist them,” said U Aung Aung Kyaw, the director of the Bagan branch of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum.

“We are trying our best to protect our heritage and prevent such incidents. Visitors also need to value, respect and promote responsible tourism in the host country,” he added.

https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/tourists-porn-video-shot-myanmars-bagan-world-heritage-site-provokes-outrage.html?fbclid=IwAR2d_blr4aBymXVh9YM4okZaNE6KBx68-iWQ-txJI9tAbTOxZ-7AhIKPX28

From: THE IRRAWADDY, MYANMAR Fri, February 14, 2020

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