The Kachin Alliance has expressed concern over the health of Hkalam Samson, a pastor from Myanmar’s predominantly Christian Kachin ethnic group, who continues to deteriorate in prison.
Hkalam was charged with breaking the country’s counterterrorism law and unlawful association for meeting with Kachin armed forces and praying with Myanmar’s exiled National Unity Government, according to the Kachin Alliance.
The former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention could face up to 13 years in prison.
Hkalam was traveling to Bangkok for medical appointments when he was arrested, as stated by the Kachin Alliance. His wife reported that he was suffering from pneumonia and high blood pressure in January, and she has been unable to send him medication or food.
Hkalam is internationally known for his peacemaking and diplomacy skills and is a leading advocate for the Kachin people, who have been in a civil war with the military junta for decades.
Human rights groups, the Kachin diaspora, and the U.S. State Department have all called for Hkalam’s release.
Labya La Seng, the pastor of Dallas-Fort Worth Kachin Baptist Church and president of the Kachin American Baptist Association, described Hkalam as the image of Kachin Baptist churches and people. Hkalam met with President Trump in July 2019.