From remarks by U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby regarding the recent arrests of Patrick Khum Jaa Lee and Chaw Sandi Tun at the October 15 Daily Press Briefing in Washington, DC.
“On Myanmar, we’re disappointed to hear reports that police have arrested and charged Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, the spouse of International Women of Courage Award recipient May Sabe Phyu, under the 2013 telecommunications law, reportedly in response to a Facebook post. We understand that charges have also been filed against Chaw Sandi Tun under the electronic transactions law, also reportedly in response to a Facebook post.
The use of such laws to restrict freedom of expression directly contradicts democratic principles and the government’s own stated commitment to promote political reform and respect human rights. Freedom of speech, including speech that discusses the military and other government institutions, is integral to a democratic society. And we call on authorities to release these individuals immediately and unconditionally.”
Kachin, tribal peoples occupying parts of northeastern Myanmar (Burma) and contiguous areas ofIndia (Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland) and China (Yunnan). The greatest number of Kachin live in Myanmar (roughly 790,000), but some 150,000 live in China and a few thousand in India. Numbering about 1012,000 in the late 20th century, they speak a variety of languages of the Tibeto-Burman group and are thereby distinguished as Jinghpaw, or Jingpo (Chingpaw [Ching-p’o], Singhpo), Atsi, Maru (Longvo), Lachid, Nung (Rawang), and Lisu .
The traditional Kachin religion is a form of animistic ancestor cult entailing animalsacrifice. As a result of the arrival of American and European missionaries in Burma beginning in the late 19th century, a majority of the Kachin are Christian, mainly Baptist and Roman Catholic. Among the Kachin in India, Buddhism predominates.