Family Worried as Fate of Detained Kachin Christian Leader Unknown
By The Irrawaddy 26 December 2022
Family members have expressed concern for former Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) president Dr. Hkalam Samson who has been held for more than 20 days by Myanmar’s regime.
The Christian leader was detained at the airport in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina on December 5 while attempting to travel to Bangkok.
He flew to Mandalay but was put on a flight back to Myitkyina while his two companions flew on to Bangkok. He was detained when he landed in Myitkyina.
A family member said: “We can’t accept that he is being held arbitrarily. We are concerned about his health. He has been on medication for high-blood pressure and bronchitis. We don’t know where he is being held.”
According to the KBC, the regime claims his sermons are derogatory to Myanmar’s military.
No case has been opened against Dr. Hkalam Samson, who is rumored to be at the Northern Command in Myitkyina.
The junta stopped Dr. Hkalam Samson from leaving the country because it feared he would report on the regime’s war crimes, his friends said.
In 2019, the Northern Command attempted legal action against Dr. Hkalam Samson for telling then-US president Donald Trump about the military’s oppression of ethnic minorities in the country. The case was dropped on the orders of military chief Min Aung Hlaing.
The KBC called for the release of its former leader, who still serves as an adviser to the religious body.
A relative said: “We are extremely concerned. We want his unconditional release. I dread to think what he is going through now.”
The Interim Chin National Consultative Council on December 22 condemned the arrest and imprisonment of Christian leaders and called for their release.
The regime prosecuted a Falam Baptist Association priest in Mandalay in September last year. The priest was sentenced to 23 years in prison with labor this month, according to the group.
“The regime is attempting to oppress Christian associations by detaining and imprisoning on trumped-up charges Christian faith leaders who do not support the junta,” the group’s statement said.