Myanmar: Baptist Pastor Re-arrested the Day He Was Released from Prison

Source: International Christian Concern, April 23, 2024

To mark the Buddhist New Year festival of Thingyan, officials in Myanmar released 3,300 people from prison. Authorities re-arrested one of them, a Baptist pastor, later that night.

The Rev. Hkalam Samson is a well-known and respected church leader and former chair of the Kachin Baptist Convention. He is also an outspoken advocate and defender of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar. The U.S. Department of State has called for his release.

Samson was released in the afternoon on April 17. At 10 p.m. that night, security officials detained him at his home. The reverend, who was originally detained on false charges of unlawful association, inciting opposition to the regime, and terrorism, was sentenced in April 2023 to six years in prison. Initially detained in December 2022, Samson had served 16 months of his sentence at the time of his release.

After being welcomed by friends and family the afternoon of his release, a relative who spoke on the condition of anonymity shared that authorities took Samson, his wife Zung Nyaw, and a member of the Kachin-based Peace-talk Creation Group to Myitkyina prison, where Samson had previously served time, claiming it was for their safety.

About 6 percent of Myanmar’s 54 million people are Christian. However, Kachin state, the country’s northernmost state that borders China and India, has a significant Christian population that is frequently harassed and persecuted. About 35% of the state’s 1.7 million people are Christians.
The full story includes a picture of the pastor and his wife. Also read a related story with additional details and links (AP, via Religion News Service).

Note that Myanmar neighbors the Indian state of Manipur (and several others). The border has long been porous, but India wants to change that. Read India Says It Has a Border Crisis. Christians Say the Solution Will Divide Them (Christianity Today).

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