The United States continues to support the efforts of the people of Burma to achieve a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic country that respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people, including the freedom of expression.
We are deeply concerned by the lodging of a criminal complaint against Reverend Hkalam Samson in relation to his remarks about religious freedom and the rights of members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Burma during his recent meeting in Washington with the President of the United States. Freedom of expression, including speaking out in support of human rights is a protected right in the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and should not be treated as a crime. Reverend Samson has worked tirelessly to obtain durable solutions for people displaced by the situation in Kachin State. The Lieutenant Colonel’s criminal complaint against Reverend Samson seeks to unduly limit his freedom of expression and potentially could disrupt his critical work on behalf of tens of thousands of internally displaced people.
The United States is committed to promoting freedom of expression and religious freedom for all and to promoting accountability for violations or abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms. A decision to pursue this criminal complaint and arrest Reverend Samson on the basis of his protected speech would be deeply troubling.