Myanmar Army Drops Suit Against Kachin Church Leader Over Trump comments

On Monday a senior military official dropped a suit he had filled against Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, the chairman of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC).  The suit was filed last month following critical comments the Baptist leader had made about the military during a recent meeting with President Trump following the US government’s imposition of new targeted sanctions that focused on the military.

Lt. Col. Than Hteik from the Tatmadaw’s Northern Command filed the suit at the Myitkyina Township Court on August 26th in retaliation for what he alleged was Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson giving “misinformation” to Trump.  The comments that the army took issue with were made as Trump met Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson and Pastor Langjaw Gam Seng, a Kachin pastor who was jailed in 2017 after bringing reporters to the site of a bombed Catholic church in northern Shan State.  The Kachin representatives were joined in the storied Oval Office by more than two dozen other people from around the world who had endured religious persecution.  Parts of the meeting, which included a brief discussion between Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson and Trump, were widely broadcast.

Judge U Than Tun confirmed this week that the plaintiff Lt. Col. Than Hteik withdrew the case against Dr. Hkalam Samson.  “He opened a filing charge against Dr. Hkalam Samson. So we accepted the case as criminal case no.2187. Lt. Col. Than Hteik applied to withdraw the case against Dr. Hkalam Samson at court today [September 9th]. According to Criminal Procedure Code Section 345/2, the township court approves the withdrawal. So Dr. Hkalam Samson is completely free from this case” Township Judge U Than Tun told the court.

The decision to drop the case was welcomed by the KBC Chairman Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson. Reached for comment he told the Kachin News Group (KNG) that he was pleased with the outcome.  “Well, KBC did not negotiate this. The decision to drop the case is a sign of mutual respect. This will help to stabilize the situation in our country. I think they [the army] practice an optimistic approach. It’s good for all of us,” explained Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson. The KBC and many Kachin people welcomed the decision to drop the case against Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson.

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