On December 4, 2022, authorities arrested Protestant Christian Leader, Reverend Hkalam Samson, at Mandalay International Airport as he attempted to fly to Thailand for medical treatment. On December 5, 2022, Rev Samson was put on a plane back to Myitkyina in Kachin State, where he was arrested again upon landing, reportedly in relation to his preaching and speeches made in Bible classes.
Prior to his arrest, Rev Samson had arranged the funerals of an October military junta airstrike, on a Kachin Independence Army concert, that killed 60 people. He also attempted to get medical care for those seriously injured in the strike. A month later he also took part in a prayer meeting commemorating those who died.
On April 7, a court in Myitkyina sentenced Reverend Samson, who serves as Chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly, to six years in Myitkyina Prison in the capital of Kachin state, under section 17 (1) of the Unlawful Association Act, section 505 (a) of the Penal Code and section 52 (a) of the Terrorism Act.
Rev Samson is internationally respected for his work for freedom of religion or belief, and human rights in Myanmar. He previously faced prosecution after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss religious freedom in Burma in July 2019.
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