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Reverend Dr Hkalam Samson sentenced to six years in prison

7 Apr 2023

The former President of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), Reverend Dr Hkalam Samson, has been sentenced to six years imprisonment by a court in Myanmar/Burma today.

He was jailed on charges of unlawful association, defaming the State and terrorism.

Reverend Dr Samson, an outspoken and courageous voice for human rights for the Kachin people, was arrested at Mandalay International Airport on 5 December 2022 as he was attempting to travel to Bangkok. He has been held in Myitkyina prison since his arrest.

A court in Myitkyina sentenced Reverend Dr Samson, who serves as Chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly, under section 17 (1) of the Unlawful Association Act, section 505 (a) of the Penal Code and section 52 (a) of the Terrorism Act.

Reverend Samson served as President of the KBC from 2018-2022 and previously for two terms as General Secretary from 2010-2018. He is an internationally respected advocate for freedom of religion or belief and human rights in Myanmar. In 2019 he travelled to Washington, DC to participate in the International Religious Freedom Ministerial Conference, where he was among religious leaders from around the world who met with the United States President in the White House.

In November 2018, he visited London together with other religious, human rights and civil society activists from Kachin, Shan and Ta’ang ethnic nationalities in northern Myanmar, where he met senior British Parliamentarians and officials. In April 2021, just over two months after the military coup in Myanmar which overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected civilian government, Reverend Samson issued an appeal for prayer for Myanmar, together with the current General Secretary of the KBC.

Benedict Rogers, CSW’s Senior Analyst for East Asia, author of three books on Myanmar and a friend of Reverend Samson, said: 'This sentence is an outrageous travesty of justice. Reverend Dr Samson is a completely non-violent Christian pastor and a brave and tireless advocate of justice, human rights and peace. He has been jailed simply for courageously speaking out against the Myanmar military’s barbaric atrocities perpetrated against the people of Myanmar. The international community must speak out strongly to demand his immediate release from prison and intensify efforts to apply targeted sanctions against Myanmar’s illegal military regime until all political prisoners are freed, the military ceases all attacks in the ethnic states and Myanmar is placed on a path of genuine federal democracy.'



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