When you vacation in another country, it is always important to know the laws and customs of that nation. People will remember Otto Warmbier, who suffered serious trauma while in a North Korean prison. He was accused of stealing a propaganda poster, which all tourists were warned was a crime, and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Two months after Warmbier was put in prison, he suffered a severe brain injury and fell into a coma. North Korean authorities claim this was as a result of botulism and a sleeping pill, though U.S. physicians found no evidence of this.
After 18 months in captivity, Warmbier was released to the United States, but tragically died six days later. It was wildly speculated that Otto Warmbier was beaten, tortured, and potentially poisoned while imprisoned.
While everyone felt for Warmbier and his family, some were quick to point out that there are always consequences for your actions.
A group of ten tourists in Cambodia are learning this lesson the hard way, after their "pornographic dancing" could land them in prison for more than a year.
Five British nationals, two Canadians, one Norwegian, one New Zealander and one from the Netherlands are facing up to a year in Cambodian prison, and they claim they don't know why.
“Honestly, it was really confusing. Everyone was confused. They raided, rounded us up – there were about 80 to 100 people at this party. Some of them were tourists. There were about 30 of them [police officers],” one prisoner said.
The police released images of what they called "pornographic singing and dancing" on their website.
According to the Canadian Federal Travel Advisory, visitors of Cambodia was warned to "Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities."
The illegal acts took place at Angkor Wat, a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. The country has been trying to clamp down on people posting revealing images of themselves on religious sites. Duong Thavry, head of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department, says they're trying to protect the values of the country.
“We cracked down on them because they committed activities that are against our culture," he said.
However, the prisoners don't see it the same way.
“We’re innocent,” said one prisoner. “We don’t know why we’ve been arrested, we’re getting different stories from different people. Our parents are doing what they can. It’s really just trying to keep a good vibe until we know the outcome.”
Some people think the arrest is uncalled for:
Time to skip Cambodia as a tourist destination... at least for backpackers!— Hilde Vestad (@HildeVestad) January 28, 2018
We did not get arrested for being young & stupid in the 90’s https://t.co/osXov2hR0b
While others found it warranted:
while one may be shocked, one must follow one's country values/customs while travelling— khai (@sumtimw0ng) January 28, 2018
That's the worst kind of self-entitlement. Don't get me wrong, a custodial sentence - especially that length - is absurd. But when I backpacked I did basic research about cultures & laws. Of course you can have fun, drink, etc. But having respect for other cultures isn't hard.— A Casual Observer (@CasualObserverK) January 29, 2018