Updated: August 02, 2021 06:46 AM GMT
Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang from Hakha Diocese in Chin state was arrested by the Chinland Defense Force on July 26. (Photo: RVA Hakha)
A bishop in Hakha Diocese in Chin state in western Myanmar has called for the release of a priest and a catechist following their arrest by a people’s defense force.
Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang and a catechist were arrested by the Chinland Defense Force (CDF) while they were traveling from Surkhua town to Hakah on July 26.
They are from the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Surkhua in Hakha Diocese.
Bishop Lucius Hre Kung of Hakha said he is concerned for the well-being of the priest and the catechist as they have been detained for a week.
“I call on the concerned leaders of the CDF to immediately release the pair,” Bishop Hre Kung said in a letter released on Aug. 1.
Local Catholics have expressed concern and said prayers for the immediate release of the cleric and the catechist.
The group accused the priest of giving information to the military junta
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, according to church sources.
The CDF said on Aug. 1 that the priest and catechist are in good health.
The group accused the priest of giving information to the military junta, getting medical support from the junta and urging locals to receive the junta’s support.
It had given two warnings to clergy not to contact the junta and they had to arrest Father Tin Thang as he failed to obey, the CDF said.
“We will release them only after our demands of transferring the priest from Surkhua to Hakha and signing letters of recommendation from two church leaders are fulfilled,” the group said.
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 among junta forces in a conflict that erupted in Chin state in early May.
Clashes are still raging and more than 18,000 people have been displaced in Chin state and neighboring Magway and Sagaing divisions, according to a UN report on July 30.
During the conflict, priests have been targeted with the military arresting eight priests from Chin and Kachin states and Mandalay division in May and June.