Myanmar Junta Prosecuting Kachin State Baptist Leader

By The Irrawaddy 8 December 2022

Myanmar’s military regime is prosecuting former Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) president Dr. Hkalam Samson over the content of his sermons.

The religious leader was detained by the regime officials at the airport in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina on Monday.

On Tuesday, KBC officials were summoned to the regime’s Kachin State Administration Council, where state security chief Colonel Aung Kyi Linn informed them of the legal action, said a KBC source.

The security chief played them video recordings of their ex-president’s sermons that he claimed had broken the law. Details of what was said in sermons are not immediately clear.

The regime has not disclosed the whereabouts of Dr. Hkalam Samson, who is also chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly, but Myitkyina residents say he is being held at Northern Command headquarters in the state capital.

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.

In 2019, the Northern Command attempted legal action 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.

The Baptist faith leader had left Myitkyina for Mandalay to catch a flight to Bangkok on Monday morning. He was detained at Mandalay airport and put on a flight back to Myitkyina, while his two travel companions were allowed to fly on to Bangkok.

Dr. Hkalam Samson was then detained on arrival at Myitkyina’s airport, a source close to him told The Irrawaddy.