Reverend Samson is the latest of thousands to be arbitrarily detained by the Myanmar junta since it attempted to seize power in a coup in February 2021

Global Witness is extremely concerned to hear of the detention of Kachin civil society leader Reverend Hkalam Samson in Mandalay, reportedly by the Myanmar military's Northern Command, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

“Reverend Samson is a well-respected religious and community leader and advocate for the people of Kachin,” said Hanna Hindstrom, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness. “His arbitrary detention sends a further chilling message to civil society in Myanmar, who are already facing escalating threats and violence at the hands of a merciless military junta.”

Rev Samson, the former chair of the Kachin Baptist Convention, appears to have become the latest target in the junta’s assault on civic space in Myanmar, where over 13,000 political prisoners currently languish in prison.

Reverend Samson was detained at the Mandalay airport while attempting to board a flight to Thailand, according to local media. Global Witness understands that he is still currently detained, though has yet to be charged with any offence.

In 2019, he was sued for defamation by a military officer in the Northern Command for making critical comments about the military to then US President Donald Trump.

“The junta should immediately release Reverend Samson, along with all other political prisoners who have been unjustly detained and subjected to the junta’s sham legal processes,” said Hindstrom. “The international community must also increase its political and economic pressure on the junta, which will continue to act with impunity as long as it perceives that there will be few consequences for its abuses.”