Pastor Among 58 People Abducted in Myanmar

Pastor U Maung Maung Still Missing

10/29/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 26, Pastor U Maung Maung, along with 57 others, was abducted by the ethnic militia in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Pastor U Maung Maung is from the Chin ethnic group, a minority ethnic group in Rakhine State that is primarily Christian.

In the latest escalation of violence in the region where the Arakan Army (AA) has been fighting government troops for months, AA abducted 58 people from a boat carrying 165 civilian passengers and approximately 50 government personnel from Rakhine’s capital, Sittwe.

Associated Press reported that on Sunday, Myanmar’s military commander-in-chief acknowledged dispatching helicopters to try to rescue the abductees in a statement on its website. It said their helicopters suffered some damage from gunfire and a crewman was lightly wounded, while at least 14 people who had been kidnapped were rescued.

However, AA’s statement from the same day accused Myanmar’s army of sinking several boats carrying dozens of soldiers and police officers held as hostages. It added that many had died in the operation.

A local source who wished to remained anonymous told ICC that Pastor U Maung Maung from Church of Christ Myanmar was among the abducted. “He is not among the people who have been released or people who have died.”

“I want his abduction to get publicity because I am worried that AA will kill him,” he added.

AA is notorious for targeting religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims in Rakhine State. Earlier in 2019, AA abducted and killed Pastor U Tun Nu from Mrauk-U township and Pastor U Thar Tun from Buthidaung. Local Christians fear that once Pastor U Maung Maung’s religious affiliation is discovered, he might face the same fate.

This is not the first time the self-determination seeking group, representing the Buddhist inhabitants of Rakhine State, abducted a large number of civilians. Earlier this month, AA rebels disguised as sports players boarded a bus and held dozens of firefighters and civilians hostage.

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “Civilians should never fall victim to the ongoing conflicts between the ethnic armed groups and the Burmese Army, nor should they be a bargaining chip for any group. The crime committed by the Arakan Army should not be ignored. We urge the Burmese government to take swift action and rescue these innocent citizens. We also ask for prayers for the safe and speedy return of Pastor U Maung Maung.”

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.

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