Two Kachin pastors from northern Myanmar have been detained by police in Myitkyina for marking the 60th Kachin Revolution Day.
Dr. Maji La Wawm, a spokesman for the two pastors, told The Irrawaddy Friday that the police came to the church yesterday and detained the priests.
“They detained our two pastors over claims they held a revolutionary event. We are trying to meet the authorities to negotiate their release,” said Dr. Maji La Wawm.
The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) church hosted the Kachin Revolution Day on Feb. 5. A group of Kachin residents asked the KBC for permission to mark the revolution anniversary at the church.
The two pastors agreed to host the event as the group had already gained permission from the KBC.
“Those two pastors were present during the event. They were innocent as they knew nothing about it,” he said.
A separate fundraising performance was held that night at the church and the two pastors were involved in the event. But they were not involved in the revolution ceremony during the daytime.
“Some police attended the night time event and they thought it was for Kachin Revolution Day and arrested the two pastors, which was an error,” said Dr. Maji La Wawm.
Dr. Hkalam Samson, chairman of the KBC, told The Irrawaddy that the two pastors were charged under Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act, under claims they were connected with Kachin rebels.
Church representatives are due to meet the Myanmar military’s Northern Command today to discuss the detentions.
The KBC said it was holding an internal discussion before discussing the matter with the media.
KBC sources said the pastors had been taken to court, although they were only supposed to be given medical checks. The police, reportedly, kept the priests out of sight after their court appearance.
The Kachin police were unavailable to comment although an anonymous officer said he expected the pastors to be released this afternoon.
The Kachin National Consultative Assembly sent a letter to the Myanmar army’s Northern Command saying that the group each year marks the decision to take up arms against the government to secure self-determination. The letter said: “Different religious groups gather in church to pray for those facing problems and to consider the 60 years since the revolution. We pray for peace for Myanmar’s army and the government, the ethnic armed groups and our Kachin internally displaced people. We pray for them to return to their homes as soon as possible.”