A Baptist pastor in Myanmar who was reported abducted by the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) on September 16 remains missing, according to family members.
Rev. Thian Lian Sang of the Falam Baptist Church in Shwe Mandalay was arrested by armed men in plainclothes in front of his house. The armed men were accompanied by at least 20 soldiers in three military vehicles.
A report from the Baptist World Alliance said that following the pastor’s arrest, members of the State Administration Council entered his home and confiscated 400,000 kyats (US$215) and the family members’ mobile phones.
At the time of his arrest, Rev. Sang was recovering from COVID-19, said a report from the International Christian Concern.
In statement released on September 20, the Baptist World Alliance called for the immediate release of Rev. Sang and the arrest of those responsible for the shooting of Rev. Cung Biak Hum on September 18.
Baptist pastor Hmun, an ethnic Chin like Rev. Sang, was killed by the Tatmadaw while helping to put out a fire caused by an airstrike that hit more than 19 homes.
The Baptist Convention in Chin has earlier condemned the killing and the deployment of troops in Christian churches, the destruction of Bibles and other religious texts, and the firing of artillery at church buildings.
“As the servants of God, we have to stand with the people. This could lead to opposition to our rulers, but we will stand with justice, no matter what,” said Hkalam Samson, president of the Kachin Baptist Convention in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state.
“The murder of a Baptist minister and bombing of homes in Thantlang, Chin State, are the latest examples of the living hell being delivered daily by junta forces against the people of Myanmar,” said Thomas Andrews, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the country.
On Thursday, September 23, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Myanmar is facing the alarming prospect of an escalating civil war.
Bachelet told the United Nations Human Rights Council that time was running out for other countries to step up efforts to restore democracy and prevent a broader conflict.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi’s government was ousted by the military in February, sparking a nationwide uprising that the junta has tried to crush.
Attacks on troops have increased since lawmakers ousted by the generals called for a “people’s defensive war” earlier this month.
Sources in Myanmar said on Thursday that thousands of people in the country’s Chin State have already fled to India.
Bachelet said the human rights situation had deteriorated significantly as the effects of the coup “devastate lives and hopes across the country.”
“Conflict, poverty and the effects of the pandemic are sharply increasing, and the country faces a vortex of repression, violence and economic collapse,” she said.