Army Drops Charges against KBC Chairman

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Burma Army has dropped its charges against Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, the chairman of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), after earlier accusing him of “knowingly giving false information” to US President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House in July.

“Plaintiff Lt.-Col. Than Hteik applied to withdraw the case today [September 9]. According to Criminal Procedure Code Section 345/1, the township court approves the withdrawal. So Dr. Hkalam Samson is completely free from this case,” Myitkyina Township Court’s information officer U Than Tun told reporters on Monday.

Lt.-Col. Than Hteik accused Dr. Hkalam Samson of deliberately misinforming the US president when he told him during a press conference on July 18 about the Burma Army’s oppression of minorities and Burma’s lack of religious freedom.

“As Christians in Myanmar, we are being oppressed and tortured by the Myanmar military government. We don’t have a chance for religious freedom as ethnic armed groups fight against the central military government,” Dr. Hkalam Samson said to Trump before asking for US support to help Burma achieve genuine democracy and federalism.

These remarks angered military officials, so on August 26, Lt. Col. Than Hteik filed charges against Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson at Myitkyina Township Court.

U.S. Embassy in Rangoon recently made a statement on this case that United States is deeply concerned.

The decision to drop the case was welcomed by Kachin observers, who said it would help to stabilize the situation in Kachin State and other parts of the country where ethnic armies are at war with government forces.

“It’s good. It should be like this. This is a sensitive case. It can impact on the peace process. Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson is not a normal civilian. So prosecution against him is a sensitive case. Therefore, withdrawing the case was an effective move for making stability in the country,” Ko Tsa Ji, the general secretary of Kachin Development Network Group, told NMG.