Myanmar jails Christian pastor for six years: lawyer
Bangkok, Thailand — A court in junta-ruled Myanmar jailed a high-profile Christian pastor for six years on Friday on charges of terrorism and illegal assembly, his lawyer said.
Since seizing power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government in February 2021, Myanmar’s military has regularly jailed those it deems a threat, often on charges rights groups say are flimsy.
Hkalam Samson, the former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention, met then US president Donald Trump at the White House in 2019 as part of a multinational delegation highlighting religious persecution.
The pastor was sentenced on three charges by a court inside a prison in Myitkyina, the capital of the northern Kachin State, his lawyer told AFP.
He was given three years on anti-terrorism charges for meeting a senior member of the National Unity Government — a self-declared parallel administration dominated by former lawmakers from Suu Kyi’s party.
The court jailed him for another two years for unlawful association for visiting a rebel-held town near the Chinese border, and one year for breaching a law against undermining the military authorities, over a speech he gave.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group, says more than 20,000 people have been arrested on political charges since the coup, with more than 17,000 still in detention.