Updated: August 05, 2021 11:41 AM GMT
Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang from Hakha Diocese in Myanmar's Chin state was arrested by the Chinland Defense Force on July 26. (Photo: RVA Hakha)
A priest and a catechist from Hakha Diocese in Myanmar's Chin state who were arrested by a local militia have been released following mediation by Catholic leaders.
Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang and a catechist were arrested by the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) while they were traveling from Surkhua to Hakah on July 26.
They are from the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Surkhua.
They were released on Aug. 4 evening following the intervention of church leaders, according to local sources.
“The pair were in good health as they were treated well during nine days of detention. They returned to their parish yesterday evening,” a church social worker from Hakha told UCA News.
He said the release followed agreeing to the demands of the CDF, which included transferring the priest from Surkhua to Hakha to avoid contact with the military and an agreement not to undertake government projects.
The priest has been doing development work for the people and the region
On Aug. 1, Bishop Lucius Hre Kung of Hakha called for the release of the pair as he was concerned for their well-being.
Father Tin Thang has been helping dozens of displaced people including the elderly, women and children who took refuge in the parish following clashes in early June.
The priest also carries out social development projects in his parish, according to residents.
The CDF accused the priest of supplying information to the military, receiving medical support from the junta and urging local people to receive the junta’s support.
A senior clergyman who wished to remain anonymous said misinformation and baseless accusations about the priest were spread on social media.
“The priest has been doing development work for the people and the region,” the cleric told UCA News.
Some people expressed their view on social media that the abduction of the priest may affect the image of the CDF and other civil defense forces.
The CDF is one of several independent civil resistance groups fighting the military after it seized power on Feb. 1 and ousted the elected government.
Using homemade rifles and arms, the CDF has inflicted heavy casualties on junta forces in a conflict that erupted in Chin state in early May.
During the conflict, the clergy have been targeted, with the military arresting eight priests from Chin and Kachin states and Mandalay division in May and June.