Catholic priest arrested by Myanmar military

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A Myanmar Catholic priest was arrested on Wednesday in Kanpetlet town on suspicion of providing food to a civil resistance group. He was released later.

Myanmar’s military raided a Catholic parish house in the western state of Chin and arrested Father Michael Aung Ling on suspicions of supporting a civil resistance group. The Priest and a boarding student were arrested around 8 am on June 16 from the compound of St. Michael’s Church in Kanpetlet town, the parish under the Diocese of Hakha, the state capital.

In the Diocese of Hakha, out of more than 700 thousand inhabitants, mainly of Chin ethnicity, there are about 35,000 Catholics. Still, about 40% of the entire population is Protestant Christian. Christians are a minority in the predominantly Buddhist country of Myanmar and account for 6.2 percent of its 54 million people. Myanmar Catholics represent about 1.5 percent of the population.

Father Ling was questioned for 11 hours and then made to sign a document promising not to support opposition forces before being released. All of this transpired because soldiers found rice bags stored in the parish house and suspected that the Priest was supplying food to the Chinland Defense Force (CDF).

Since February 1, there is an ongoing coup in Myanmar due to the ousting of the elected government and detainment of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Other priests arrested

Father Aung Ling’s arrest came three days after the weekend arrest of 6 priests in Mandalay Archdiocese. As per Fr. Dominic Jyo Du, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Mandalay, soldiers raided the Church of the Assumption complex on the night between 12 and 13 June. Soldiers also raided the Church of the Assumption complex and arrested the parish priest other priests visiting him. 

Last week, the army also arrested a priest from Banmaw Diocese in Kachin state while travelling from Banmaw to Myitkyina. He was released after four days after Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam intervened. The military also raided churches in Kachin state and at least five Catholic churches in Pathein Diocese in the Irrawaddy Delta in April. 


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