Kachin Pastors Deny Breaking Law
By Network Media Group
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Kachin Baptist pastors that spent two weeks in jail in the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, after being charged with unlawful association act, said they weren’t guilty of breaking the law following their release from detention last Thursday.
“I expected we would be released when we appeared in court because we didn’t do anything in violation of article 17(1),” said Rev Bima Dau Lum.
The Burma Army arrested Bima Dau Lum and youth pastor Sumlut Tu Htang on February 6, charging them for leading the commemoration of the 60th Kachin Resistance Day in Jaw Bum.
The pastors denied playing a leading role in the anniversary honouring when the Kachin took up arms against the military government.
As a reverend, Bima Dau Lum told NMG he’s in charge of Jaw Bum. The Kachin Nationals Consultative Assembly wanted to organize a prayer ceremony. He said they organized a fundraising performance in Jaw Bum.
“The organizers set up a vinyl that had a graphic of a Kachin soldier and that’s why the Burma Army charged us with violating article 17(1),” Tu Htang told NMG.
Rev. Bima Dau Lum said: “From what we understand, violating article 17(1) would entail if someone sends food rations or buys weapons for KIO/KIA. We didn’t do any such thing and it’s why I expected we would be released when we attended court,”
The Kachin Baptist Convention, Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group and Kachin Nationals Consultation Assembly lobbied the Burma Army to release the pastors.
Sumlut Tu Htang told the Irrawaddy one of the officers that charged the pair told the court the order to withdraw their charges came from the top, referring to Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces.