Abducted Christian Parliamentarian in Myanmar Released
U Hawi Tin Returns Home Nearly Three Months After Abduction
01/21/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Christian parliamentarian U Hawi Tin, who was abducted on November 3, 2019 by the Arakan Army (AA), has been released today.
The member of the Upper House for Chin State called his wife, Daw Khin Ei Sint, to inform her of his release, nearly three months after he was seized by AA fighters from a passenger ferry on the Kaladan River in Chin’s Paletwa township.
“We just talked with him on the phone,” she told Myanmar Times. “He didn’t tell me his location. A teacher was also released with him. I am happy. I think he might be home by this evening.”
Irrawaddy reports that his family members met him and were on their way home with him.
“Five relatives met him at Pwi Wone Village on the border between Kyauktaw and Paletwa townships and now they are on their way home to Paletwa. They will arrive in Paletwa late this evening. We are happy that he is safe and healthy,” said U Soe Htet, the Chin State municipal minister.
According to a statement by the AA, U Hawi Tin was released because “the Rakhine and Khumi are like brothers, living in harmony with understanding and trust. We want to rebuild trust and friendship between the two communities, and reconciliation in the long term, so we decided to release U Hawi Tin at a safe place in Paletwa on Jan. 21.”
Only 10 days ago, the AA insisted on keeping him in detention, saying that the group had security concerns if he was released. The AA also questioned him over allegations that he was an informant, providing the Burmese Army with intelligence.
The AA is active in western Myanmar, specifically in Chin state and Rakhine state. It seeks to establish an independent Buddhist Rakhine state, and is at war with the Burmese Army. Politicians and ethnic Chin Christians often fall victim to abductions by the AA, which the group uses as bargaining chips with the government.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “While we rejoice at the release of MP Hawi Tin, especially after many have rallied together to call for his safe return in recent months, we continue to call on the Arakan Army to stop the abduction of innocent individuals in western Myanmar.”