05/15/2020 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – On May 13, pastor David Lah and three others were charged with three years in jail for defying large group bans due to COVID-19. According to the 2013 Natural Disaster Management Law, any voluntary act that is negligent is punishable by imprisonment for no more than three years and a possible fine. The controversial pastor first claimed that devout Christians were immune to contracting the disease, only to contract the virus in April during his online streaming service, which was attended by his followers. UCA News says that at least 71 people in Yangon are linked to Lah’s large group services.
Because of Lah’s action, many Christians in Myanmar face criticism and have sensed hostilities towards them in the Buddhist majority country. Christian leaders have appealed to citizens to work together to fight Covid-19 in unity and love as anti-Christian sentiment surges on social media. They also urged people not to post and share fake news, photos and videos on Facebook that may be offensive to religion.
On May 7, Lah was discharged from the hospital after his tests came back negative twice. Lah was then quarantined for 21 days in a Yangon hotel after Lah’s neighbors refused to have him quarantined at home. Lah holds a Canadian passport and is on the list for evacuation for the end of May, and according to ICC’s Myanmar representative, he could receive a reduced sentence. He and the three other church members will face court after they finish their quarantine and when the court re-opens.
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