Myanmar Military Detains Prominent Church Leader As Unrest Spreads
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
NAYPYIDAW (Worthy News) – Authorities in military-ruled Myanmar have detained a prominent church leader who previously served as the president of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) denomination in the country’s Kachin state, Christians say.
Hkalam Samson was reportedly arrested at the Mandalay International Airport on December 5. “After being held overnight, Samson was sent back to the city of Myitkyina in Kachin State, where military officers rearrested him, and he has since been detained,” explained advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).
The Christian leader was scheduled to fly to Bangkok, Thailand, for medical treatment when intercepted by the authorities, VOMC said in comments seen Wednesday.
“On December 6, Kachin’s Security and Border Affairs Minister, Colonel Aung Kyi Lin, summoned a group of KBC officials,” the group added. They reportedly informed them that junta officers were preparing to prosecute Samson. “The colonel stated that the authorities had viewed videos of the Christian man’s speeches, along with outlines based on some of his sermons. They were convinced that the pastor had committed offenses for which he would be prosecuted,” VOMC noted.
However, church leaders were never told what charges had been determined for Samson’s case, according to Christians familiar with the situation. “At last report, the location where the accused is presently being held has also not been disclosed,” VOMC stressed.
His detention came after Myanmar’s military junta targeted Kachin State with air strikes and additional military action, along with other areas where rebel groups are fighting for independence, Christians told Worthy News.
However, the KBC and Samson “have no connection whatsoever to any of the rebel groups,” VOMC stressed.
Among those targeted in Myanmar, also known as Burma, are minority Christians, churches, and other Christian institutions in the mainly Buddhist nation of nearly 58 million.
Last month the Kachin Theological Seminary suffered damage when a shell struck a tree next to the dormitory, Worthy News learned.
“A few days before that, a Baptist church building was partially destroyed by a shelling attack,” VOMC confirmed.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since Min Aung Hlaing led a coup in February 2021 against Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, arresting its leadership and detaining thousands of activists and protesters.
Mass arrests, killings, and allegations of systematic brutality by security forces have given rise to an armed resistance movement that the junta has struggled to put down.
The United Nations has accused the military of mass killings and crimes against humanity, allegations it calls interference.
Amid the unrest, thousands of predominantly Christian minority members have been uprooted by ongoing fighting, Worthy News established.
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