Myanmar’s military regime has detained and charged three Christian pastors from Kachin State who organized a prayer for peace in Myanmar.
Three pastors from three different churches, including the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) and Rawang Baptist Christian Convention, were detained on Monday after Marip Yaw Shu, chairman of the Rawang Literature and Culture Committee (RLCC), filed a complaint against them for leading a prayer service in Nawngmun Township, Putao District, on March 3.
The three face up to three years in jail for incitement under the Penal Code which criminalizes causing fear, spreading false news and agitating for criminal offenses against government employees.
Marip Yaw Shu sought approval from the Putao military authorities to file the charges against the three on June 14. Nawngmun Township police took the three pastors in for questioning in Putao on Monday.
The three were only told at the police station that they faced the charges. They have been held in custody in Putao.
Two of the pastors have health problems. The Rawang pastor is over 70 and suffers from high blood pressure, stomach problems and has lost half of his kidney functionality, according to Putao residents.
“It is difficult for him to move. As he is in prison, his stomach problems might get worse because of the prison food. We are concerned for his health. Another pastor, in his 60s, is recovering from a stroke,” said a Putao resident.
Marip Yaw Shu is a member of the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party and the military regime’s administrative body in Putao.
He ran for the Rawang ethnic affairs ministerial post in Kachin State in the 2020 general election, receiving over 10,000 Rawang votes but lost to the National League for Democracy candidate by around 2,000 votes.
“It is unacceptable if they are sentenced. They must be released. If people are given prison sentences just because of hearsay and without evidence, there won’t be enough prisons in Myanmar to hold everyone,” said the KBC’s president, Dr. Hkalam Samson.
A majority of Putao residents have expressed their opposition to the military regime since the February coup.
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