US calls for end of Unlawful Associations Act following jailing of two pastors

US embassy in Yangon. Photo: Discover Diplomacy

The US embassy in Yangon issued a press statement today which called for the end of the use of the Unlawful Associations Act after two religious leaders from Mongko, Shan State were sentenced to lengthy prison terms under section 17(1) of this law and other criminal charges.

The embassy issued this press statement after the Lashio Township court sentenced Kachin Baptist Church pastor Nawng Latt and youth leader Gam Seng to four years and three months and two years and three months respectively on October 27.

Both were sentenced under section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act, section 500 of Penal Code (criminal defamation), and section 8 of Export Import Act.

The press statement of the US embassy expressed concern about the sentencing of two religious leaders and they called for the end of the use of the Unlawful Associations Act and other laws used to arbitrarily arrest citizens. The embassy also calls on all actors to build trust and keep Myanmar on the path toward national peace and reconciliation.

These two Kachin people went missing near Mongko government army strategic command frontline post on December 24, 2016. In due course, then C-in-C of the Defence Services office issued an official press statement on January 19, 2017 which says they were detained for giving financial support to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), acting as informants of the KIA, recruiting soldiers for KIA and spreading fabricated and concocted news.

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