04/14/2022 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – Church officials in Myanmar are in talks with authorities to bring about the release of a young priest. He was detained by military junta troops in a village in southern Myanmar.
At 3 am on April 10, junta troops raided St. Joseph Catholic church in Sharge village in the Irrawaddy region of Myanmar. The assistant parish priest was among 13 people detained by the junta. The group also included another priest, two students at a local seminary, and nine other church attendees.
The priests, catechists, and parishioners were cooking meals for Palm Sunday celebrations at the church when the soldiers raided their premises.
It is still unclear why the military troops raided the church. The others who were detained were released later in the afternoon on April 10 after being questioned for several hours. The young priest, however, is still being held by authorities.
“Church officials are trying to send an appeal letter and also talking with the concerned authorities for the release of the detained priest,” a senior clergy member told UCA News. Another church source revealed that some photographs purportedly linked with anti-coup activities were found with the young priest.
The latest targeting of Catholic clergy comes within a couple of days of some 40 soldiers raiding the compound of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Mandalay. They searched every building, including the archbishop’s house and clergy center, for suspected hidden weapons.
Since the military coup in February 2021 that deposed the democratically elected government of former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, religious minorities in Myanmar have faced renewed violence at the hands of the military.
The junta has specifically targeted churches and related institutions in Christian-dominated Kayah, Shan, and Chin states, which have witnessed strong resistance to the military regime, mostly from young people, including Christians.
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