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Concern for detained Burmese Baptist pastors 

Two Burmese Baptist pastors whose detention by the military prompted an international outcry have been handed to police – but now face up to five years in prison

Burma500Nawng Latt and Gam Seng, ethnic Kachin Christians, went missing after being called to military base on December 24.
 
The detention was linked to their assisting journalists investigating an unlawful military airstrike on a Catholic Church - resulted in an international outcry. A statement from the international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for their release. Amnesty International and Fortify Rights also issued statements, while British MPs spoke in Parliament to ask the Burmese government to investigate the disappearance of the pastors.

On 19 January the military then released a statement confirming they were holding the two men.
 
According to The Irrawaddy, the pastors were handed to police by the military on 22 January, where they have now been visited by members of the Kachin Baptist Convention.
 
HRW updated its report on Wednesday to state the pastors had now been charged under the Unlawful Associations Act.
 
It said the Burmese government has long used the Unlawful Associations Act to restrict freedom of association and detain peaceful activists. The law carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. 
 
'The arrest of the two Kachin Baptist leaders appears to be retaliation for their help in exposing wartime abuses,' said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of Fortify Rights. 'The military came clean about their detention only after local and international outcry, but they’re are still at grave risk.'
 
Fighting between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army in northern Burma has displaced more than 23,000 people during the past several weeks, HRW reported.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Baptist Times, 25/01/2017
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