Bayon vandalism: Tourist admits to breaking statue

Following on from last week’s story about a Dutch (but New Zealand resident) tourist who destroyed a Buddha statue in the Bayon. The tourist has since admitted to the New Zealand media that she did indeed destroy the statue, on account of voices in her head. It is not known if she will be prosecuted.

Tourist Admits Breaking Bayon Buddha, Blames Voice in Her Head
The Cambodia Daily, 15 October 2014

‘Voices’ told NZ tourist to sit on Buddha’s lap
Phnom Penh Post, 15 October 2014

Vandalism Suspected at Famed Bayon Temple of Angkor Wat
VOA Cambodia, 14 October 2014

“Possessed” Woman vandalizes Angkor Wat heritage site
NL Times, 14 October 2014

‘I did push over Buddha’
Otago Daily Times, 14 October 2014

Kiwi admits smashing Buddha statue in Cambodian temple
New Zealand Herald, 14 October 2014

Smashed Buddha statue fake – NZ woman
3 News, 14 October 2014

Kiwi says smashed Buddha statue at Angkor Wat was a fake
One News, 14 October 2014

From the Cambodia Daily:

A tourist wanted by Cambodian authorities for breaking a statue of the Buddha inside Bayon temple at the Angkor Archaeological Park last week has admitted to the crime, telling New Zealand media that she destroyed the effigy because it “didn’t belong” in the temple complex.

Willemijn Vermaat, 40, a Dutch national who is a permanent resident of New Zealand, said she broke the statue when she heard a voice telling her that the temple dedicated to Buddha in fact belonged to a goddess named Inana.

“When I got in there I got a very strange feeling that something was talking to me, but it was like it was my own thoughts,” she told Stuff.co.nz after returning to Wellington on Monday. “It was telling me I had to clean up the temple because there was too much rubbish, from the monks and other people.”

Ms. Vermaat, who reportedly has a doctorate in linguistics, told the news website that she hid in the jungle while Apsara Authority officials searched for her in the temple after visiting hours ended.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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