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05/18/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – On May 14, a Catholic priest from the diocese of Banmaw in Myanmar’s Kachin state was arrested by the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) while he was traveling between towns.

According to Agenzia Fides, Father Colombano Labang Lar Di was taken away when he was on his way to Myitkyina where he was supposed to collect aid funds to support families who are unemployed and participating in the disobedience movement against the military coup that took place on February 1.

Church officials also said that soldiers checked his identity card and mobile phone and then detained him in military quarters as they needed to ask him more questions.

The place where the priest disappeared, Momauk township, has seen intensified fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) since late April. Frequent airstrikes and gunshots have forced local residents to hide in bomb shelters.

A senior cleric from Banmaw Diocese told UCA News, “We are communicating with the military to appeal to them that he is a priest and he was going on a pastoral duty. We hope he will be released soon.”

The news of the priest’s arrest went viral on social media, with people from civil society and the Burmese Church criticizing the Tatmadaw’s arbitrary arrests and use of violence. In the past three months, Christian religious leaders, churches, and schools across the country have reported raids and arrests, especially in Christian-majority states. These actions seek to intimidate and warn Burmese Christians not to take part in the anti-coup movement.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.