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Kachin Baptist Convention / X
Kachin Baptist Convention / X
World News

Church pastor re-arrested in Myanmar just hours after release

by Lydia Davies

Just hours after his release from prison, Rev Hkalam Samson, a renowned Christian church leader and human rights advocate from the Kachin ethnic minority in Myanmar, was detained again under the military government's amnesty, which had freed him along with 3,300 prisoners to celebrate the Thingyan New Year holiday.

This re-arrest came only hours after a close friend of Rev Samson, Benedict Rogers, posted on X celebrating his release: " I am so, so happy to hear the news of the release from prison of my friend Reverend Dr Hkalam Samson, former President of the Kachin Baptist Convention in #Myanmar, after 16 months behind bars" he wrote.

His post was later followed up with dismay at his friend's re-arrest: "The re-arrest of my friend Reverend Dr Hkalam Samson in #Myanmar within hours of his release is absolutely sickening and outrageous. Let's start a global campaign to #FreeReverendSamson. Join me?".

In a statement, Mr Rogers told Premier:

“The release and then re-arrest of Reverend Hkalam Samson is illustrative of the cruelty of the ruling military regime in Myanmar, raising false hopes and then dashing them. The re-arrest of this courageous and prominent Christian leader is grossly unjust and must be called out urgently by the international community. Reverend Samson is a man of peace who simply seeks to defend human rights, and he should never have been jailed in the first place. The international community must demand his immediate and unconditional release.”

A member of the Baptist Convention, requesting anonymity for safety, told Yahoo News that Rev Samson was detained for questioning without further details provided.

The news outlet reported that Rev Samson had been welcomed back by family and friends outside the gate of the prison in the Kachin state capital, Myitkyina, when he was released early Wednesday afternoon.

However, at approximately 10pm on Wednesday, security personnel and officials arrived at his home and detained him.

Rev Samson, a key human rights advocate for Myanmar's ethnic and religious minorities, notably met with former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019 to address military abuses.

Arrested in December 2022 before a trip to Thailand for a health check-up, he received a six-year sentence in April last year for charges including unlawful association and incitement.

In Myanmar, where Buddhists are the majority, Christians represent just 6 per cent of the population but around 34 per cent in Kachin state.

Since the military coup in 2021, which led to widespread unrest and civil war, minority religions like Christianity have faced increased persecution, according to human rights organisations.





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