Junta Presses Charges Against Former KBC Leader

The junta has initiated proceedings against Rev Dr Hkalam Samson, a former leader of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), who was arrested by armed forces at Mandalay airport on 5 December as he was about to board a flight to Bangkok in Thailand.

The KBC released a statement after representatives were informed of the charges after meeting with the Minister of Security and Border Affairs of Kachin State. During an online press conference, KBC Rev Lahpai Zau Ra told the media that the minister accused Hkalam Samson of “wrong doings” and showed files to four of their representatives. The KBC has formed a special committee to campaign for Hkalam Samson’s release, however, it’s still unclear where the military is holding him.

The reverend was formerly the KBC’s chairperson and secretary – he held both posts for a total of 12 years – and is currently the chairperson of the Kachin National Consultative Council.

In 2019, Hkalam Samson visited the White House to meet former President Trump, whom he told that the army was oppressing Christians and that ethnic armed groups were fighting for a federal democracy in Burma. The same year that Hkalam Samson visited the US, Lt-Col Than Hteik, who served in Northern Military Command Headquarters, filed charges against him on 9 August for violating Article 200 of Burma’s Penal Code, but within a month the army withdrew the case.

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