Burmese Army Drops Lawsuit Against Kachin Pastor

Military Official Requests to Settle and Withdraw Case

09/10/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on September 9, a Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) officer dropped a lawsuit against Kachin pastor Hkalam Samson. The lawsuit surrounded comments that Rev. Samson made about human rights violations during a meeting with President Donald Trump in July.

According to court judge Than Tun, the complaint against Rev. Hkalam Samson, president of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), was dropped when the Myitkyina Township Court was scheduled to hear the case.

“Lieutenant Colonel Than Htike, who had filed the case, submitted a request to settle and withdraw the case on Sept. 9, so the court has allowed the settlement in accordance with legal procedure[s]… Dr. Hkalam Samson has been acquitted,” he said.

Than Htike from the Northern Command filed the complaint against the pastor on August 26, accusing him of defaming the Tatmadaw. The accusation was based on a live broadcast in which Rev. Samson told President Trump that oppression and torture were still common in Myanmar. He added that there was no religious freedom in the nation.

Rev. Samson told Radio Free Asia’s Myanmar Service that he is aware of the court’s ruling, but has yet to receive an official notice that the complaint has been dropped. He also told Irrawaddy that there had been no negotiations between the KBC and the military aimed at resolving the case.

“I’m happy about the Tatmadaw’s constructive decision,” he said. “Growing international [pressure] probably led to the decision.”

The KBC also issued a statement on September 9, stating that they welcome the news and the Tatmadaw’s decision to properly end the conflict. It also added that the “Tatmadaw’s altruistic sacrifices and understanding are critically needed in creating a federal democratic union system for Myanmar’s future.”

The statement ended with 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “We are relieved to hear that Rev. Samson no longer needs to go through a lengthy and burdensome trial that was unfounded and unnecessary. We continue to call on the Tatmadaw to respect religious freedom and human rights, especially for minority ethnic groups in Myanmar.”

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

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