Myanmar Junta Detains Former Kachin Baptist Leader

By The Irrawaddy 6 December 2022

The Myanmar military regime detained former Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) president Dr. Hkalam Samson at the airport in Kachin State’s capital, Myitkyina, in northern Myanmar on Monday evening.

The Baptist faith leader left Myitkyina for Mandalay to fly to Bangkok on Monday morning. At the airport in Mandalay he was briefly detained and told he was barred from leaving the country.  His two traveling companions were however allowed to fly to Bangkok.

Dr. Hkalam Samson was released at noon and put on a flight back to Myitkyina, where he was detained on arrival at the city’s airport, a source close to him told The Irrawaddy.

Dr. Hkalam Samson

“He was taken by [military officials] from Northern Command. We are not yet allowed to see him,” a source close to him told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday morning.

The reason for the arrest is not yet known. The regime has been launching attacks, including air raids, in Kachin State, claiming that the state’s ethnic Kachin Independence Army has been helping anti-regime resistance forces in Kachin and neighboring Sagaing Region. The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, said the KBC has nothing to do with the KIA.

The KBC has called for the immediate release of its former leader, who still serves as an adviser to the religious body.

In 2019, the Myanmar military’s Northern Command attempted to open a lawsuit against Dr. Hkalam Samson for telling US President Donald Trump about the military’s religious oppression of ethnic minorities in the country. But the case was dropped on the orders of military chief Min Aung Hlaing.