Myanmar military arrest Catholic priest amid crackdown

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

The flag of Burma (Myanmar). / Creative Photo Corner/Shutterstock.

Rome Newsroom, Jun 18, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

A Burmese Catholic priest was arrested this week after the military raided his residence in the western part of the country.

Fr. Michael Aung Ling and a student boarder were arrested in the small town of Kanpetlet, Chin State, June 16 on accusations of providing food to a civil resistance group, the Chinland Defense Force (CDF).

According to Vatican News, Ling was questioned and made to sign a document promising not to support opposition forces, before he was released around 11 hours later.

The CDF is one of the resistance forces which has opposed the military coup in Burma.

In the raid, the military also seized bags of rice and food stored in the house owned by the parish. The food is used to feed the students who board there, Agenzia Fides reported.

The Diocese of Hakha, where the church is located, has a population of 700,000, with 35,000 Catholics. Forty percent of the population is Protestant.

The death toll continues to rise in the predominantly Buddhist Southeast Asian country, officially known as Myanmar, where security forces have fired on people protesting against the Feb. 1 coup.

The advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners estimates that 865 people have died in the crackdown.

There have been other reports this month of priests being arrested and questioned by the military, as well as attacks on Catholic churches.

The country’s Catholic bishops issued a statement June 11 appealing for peace, a humanitarian corridor in the conflict zones, and respect for the sanctity of places of worship.

The bishops also asked the Catholic dioceses of Burma “to launch into a period of intense prayer, seeking compassion in the hearts of all and peace to this nation” with daily Mass, adoration, and the rosary.

“Peace is still possible. Peace is the way,” they wrote.

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