Myanmar Christian Leader Rearrested Hours After Release in Amnesty Dr Hkalam Samson is pictured after his release from Myitkyina Prison on April 17.

Kachin Baptist pastor Samson detained again after release

Rev. Hkalam Samson was among 3,300 prisoners released from Myitkyina Prison in a junta amnesty on Wednesday, April 17th. In a cruel turn of events, the former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention and chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly was rearrested just 24 hours later. Military intelligence personnel and men in uniform returned to the home of Rev. Hkalam Samson at 9 pm after evening service.  SAC security personnel had taken Rev. Samson back to the Myitkyina prison guest house to stay overnight or beyond.  The family asked for Rev Samson’s wife to stay with him at the prison guest house and this request was granted, but she has since returned to her home. The Associated Press reports that a Baptist Convention member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the three were taken after they were told they needed to answer some questions.

Rev. Samson was held for 16 months after he was seized by the Burmese military while attempting to get on a flight to Bangkok to receive medical treatment. Rev. Samson is the former President and General Secretary and current advisor of the Kachin Baptist Convention. Kachin State is the northernmost state of Burma (Myanmar) and shares a border with both China and India. He was reportedly arrested for his preaching during Bible classes that were deemed to be subversive to the Burmese military regime. He also actively advocated for human rights and prominently helped the victims of brutal airstrikes by the military junta. He eventually faced charges of terrorism, unlawful association, and inciting opposition to the military regime and was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment on April 7, 2023. His family is concerned about his deteriorating health and a recent appeal letter was rejected.

Rev. Samson actively supported his community during the brutal years of violence against the Kachin people. He arranged the funerals for the 60 people who were killed and medical care for the survivors of a military airstrike on a Kachin Independence Organization concert. He also was actively involved in humanitarian assistance to more than 100,000 internally displaced persons within the Kachin State. Samson faced prosecution previously after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss religious freedom in Burma in July 2019.

The Burmese military’s airstrikes and ground attacks have decimated communities around the country. The Peace Research Institute Oslo found that over 6,000 civilians were killed during the first 20 months of the conflict following the military coup. According to the United Nations, over 2.3 million people are internally displaced within Burma and 1.35 million have fled the country as refugees.

21Wilberforce continues to call on the Burmese military junta to put an end to violence against the people of Burma, to surrender the power they seized during the 2021 coup, and to release Dr. Samson.