Three pastors in the Kachin state are facing three years in jail for holding meetings to pray for peace in Myanmar, as reported by International Christian Concern (ICC).
The pastors, who belong to the Kachin Baptist Convention and the Rawang Baptist Convention, were detained on 28th June after the Rawang Literature and Culture Committee (RLCC) filed a lawsuit against them for “causing fear and spreading fake news”.
According to local media, the chairman of the RLCC is a member of the military regime linked to the current Myanmar government.
A military coup in the country, which ousted pro-democracy leader Ang San Suu Kyi in February, has prompted national unrest, killing at least 60 people.
Many Christians in the country have been targeted as a result of the instability, with the military raiding and attacking Catholic and Baptist churches in Kachin and Chin state.
The leaders of both the Kachin Baptist Convention and the Rawang Baptist Convention have taken to social media to urge Christians to pray for the three pastors, who are in their 60s and in a weak state of health.
“Release the pastors immediately as they are not committing any wrongdoing. They were just leading prayers,” said the Kachin Baptist Convention on its Facebook page.
“It is unacceptable if they are sentenced. They must be released. If people are given prison sentences just because of hearsay and without evidence, there won’t be enough prisons in Myanmar to hold everyone,” the KBC’s president, Dr. Hkalam Samson, told the Irrawaddy, a local news outlet.
Since the February coup, many churches, including the Kachin Baptist Convention have been organising prayer meetings, holding fasts and participating in pro-democracy demonstrations.
Earlier this year, Asia Secretary for the Church of Scotland, Sandy Sneddon told Premier how Christians can best be praying for Myanmar at this time.
“Pray for the military to respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed in the general election in November, for the elected leaders of Myanmar to be released, for justice and for peace so that everyone in Myanmar can flourish. That doesn't seem an outrageous request. That's what we're asking for."