Prominent Baptist pastor in Myanmar detained again hours after release from prison

RELIGIONS NEWS AGENCY (REDNA) – A prominent Christian church leader and human rights advocate from Myanmar’s Kachin ethnic minority was detained by the authorities just hours after he was released from prison.

AP reported he was freed under an amnesty by the military government on Thursday.

The Rev. Hkalam Samson, former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention and chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly, was among the 3,300 prisoners released nationwide on Wednesday to mark the traditional Thingyan New Year holiday.

Kachin state, in northern Myanmar, has been the scene of intermittent warfare for decades between the army and well-organized and -armed Kachin guerrillas.

Samson is a prominent advocate of the human rights of the ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar and in 2019 was part of a delegation that met the U.S. President Trump at the White House to discuss the military’s abuse of ethnic minorities.

He was detained in December 2022 while preparing to fly to Thailand for a health checkup, and in April last year was handed a six-year prison term after being convicted of violating laws on unlawful association, incitement and counter-terrorism.

Christians make up about 6% of Myanmar’s overwhelmingly Buddhist population, but about 34% of Kachin’s estimated 1.7 million population.

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