Two Kachin pastors who guided journalists around a Catholic church after it was allegedly bombed by Myanmar's military have been jailed in for offences including their alleged support of the Kachin Independence Army.

UK-based religious freedom advocacy Christian Solidarity Worldwide said Dumdaw Nawng Lat, 67, and Langjaw Gam Seng, 35, were each sentenced to three years prison on 27th October. CSW said Nawng Lat received an additional two year sentence for defamation in connection with a December, 2016, interview with Voice of America in which he reported on airstrikes conducted by Myanmar's military forces.

Morning Star News reported that both men were members of the Kachin Baptist Convention. Pastor Zau Ra, secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention in Mong Maung town, Shan state, appealed for the pastors to be freed, saying their was "no evidence" they worked for the Kachin Independence Organisation.

“They should not be jailed," he told Morning Star News. "We will continue to help them in legal means. We will submit an appeal. We will ask for a bail. We will ask for their release.”

Meryvn Thomas, CSW's chief executive, described the verdict as "a serious miscarriage of justice" and urged authorities to release the men. "We also call on the international community to raise their case with the Government of Burma as a matter of urgency," he said.

The two men were taken in military custody in late December following publication of press reports on the Catholic church bombing - which has been denied by Myanmar's army - and held incommunicado for a month before being transferred into civilian custody on 22nd January. Their disappearance was raised in the UK's House of Commons on 18th January.

The sentences handed to the men will reportedly take into account the time they've spent in civilian custody.