U.S. Embassy Statement on Sentencing of Kachin Baptist Leaders
October 27, 2017
We are concerned about the sentencing today of two religious leaders from the Kachin Baptist Church, pastor Nawng Latt and youth leader Gam Seng, under article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act, section 500 of the penal code for criminal defamation, and the Export Import Act. They were detained by the military on December 24 and held incommunicado for a month after helping reporters from Yangon investigate continued reports of fighting and military abuses against villagers in Kachin State and northern Shan State. We are concerned that these individuals were targeted for assisting journalists. We are also concerned about allegations of mistreatment during their detention. We call for the end of the use of the Unlawful Association Act and other laws used to arbitrarily arrest citizens, and we call on all actors to build trust and keep Myanmar on the path toward national peace and reconciliation.