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Logo of IRFBA: International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance

As Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, I express grave concern over the imprisonment of Reverend Dr Hkalam Samson, former Head of the Kachin Baptist Convention and Chairman of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly, in Myanmar.

I note and condemn the term of six years imprisonment for Reverend Dr Hkalam Samson that commenced on 7 April 2023, based on alleged violations of section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act 1908, section 505(a) of the Penal Code, and section 52(a) of the Counter Terrorism Law 2014.

I condemn the Myanmar military regime’s continued efforts to silence citizens – including from minority ethnic groups – on the basis of their speech, association, religion or belief. Since the coup, faith actors have been prominent in defending human rights and supporting vulnerable communities in Myanmar.

Freedom of religion or belief, including freedom to pray and carry out acts of worship, is a human right enshrined in international law. Too many individuals and communities, including in Myanmar, continue to face discrimination, hostility and violence because of their beliefs.

I call for the immediate release of Rev. Dr Hkalam Samson, and for the release of all others arbitrarily detained in Myanmar.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future