Three pastors from Kachin state, Myanmar, have been arrested for organizing prayers for peace. The chairman of the Rawang Literature and Culture Committee (RLCC) brought a lawsuit against them for conducting an interdenominational prayer service in Naungmoon township of Putao district on March 3.
Pastor Koshan Singsar, Pastor Z Kaw Htinah and Pastor M Hawng Di were arrested on June 28. Under the penal code they face a possible three years’ imprisonment on charges of incitement to cause fear, spreading false news and agitating for criminal offenses against government employees.
The RLCC chairman, Marip Yaw Shu, is a member of both the military regime’s administrative body in Putao and the military-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). He acquired approval from the Putao military authorities to charge the three Christian leaders on June 14.
The pastors were detained in Naungmoon township ahead of a court hearing scheduled for July 12. The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has called for prayers for the immediate release of the pastors.
Serious concerns have been raised about the pastors’ health. Pastor Hawng Di, in his 70s, has high blood pressure and suffers from stomach problems. A Putao resident expressed the fear that his condition might deteriorate: “It is difficult for him to move. As he is in prison, his stomach problems might get worse because of the prison food.” Another pastor is recovering from a stroke.