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Catholic priest threatened at gunpoint in Myanmar

aerial shot thantlang building destroyed by shelling from junta
This aerial photo taken on October 29, 2021 shows smokes and fires from Thantlang, in Chin State, where more than 160 buildings have been destroyed caused by shelling from Junta military troops, according to local media. (AFP Photo)

Soldiers of Myanmar’s military junta reportedly threatened at gunpoint a Catholic priest in the country’s Shan state on October 30.

A report on Mizzima Burmese News said the 46-year-old priest was forced to kneel and was told that “a bullet is all it takes to kill you” by a junta soldier.

The priest was reportedly traveling in Nguang Shwe region when he was accosted by the soldiers at about three o’clock in the afternoon.

“The car was stopped and inspected,” said one of the passengers. “After that the priest was accused of collecting funds for [the insurgents] and of supporting the rebels by buying medicines and guns.”

“He was then told that it will take just a bullet to kill him if he is seen traveling in the area one more time,” said the witness.

Meanwhile, the United States said it is “gravely concerned” about reports that Myanmar’s security forces committed human rights violations and destroyed more than 100 homes as well as Christian churches in western Chin state.

“These abhorrent attacks underscore the urgent need for the international community to hold the Burmese military accountable and take action to prevent gross violations and abuses of human rights, including by preventing the transfer of arms to the military,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

On Friday, local media and witnesses reported that junta troops had shelled the town of Thantlang after a confrontation with a local self-defense force.

A fire then engulfed the town, destroying dozens of homes and structures — including a Save the Children office, the London-based charity confirmed in a statement.

Most of Thantlang’s inhabitants had fled the town during clashes last month, many of them crossing the border to India.

The junta’s information team confirmed Saturday that two churches and 70 homes were burnt down in the town, but accused the local “people’s defense forces” of the blaze, after security forces had clashed with their fighters.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun telling local media the military’s role in Thantlang’s razing was “groundless accusations.”

AFP could not independently verify the reports from the remote region.

Price said Washington also expressed concern over the “intensification of military operations” by the junta throughout the Southeast Asian country, which has been plunged into chaos since a February coup, with more than 1,200 people killed as nationwide military cracks down on dissent.

So-called “people’s defense forces” (PDF) have sprung up across the country to take on the junta, escalating attacks and bloody reprisals.

The United Nations said last week it feared a wider human rights catastrophe amid reports of thousands of troops massing in the north and west of the country.

In May, government forces used artillery to flush out rebels from the town of Mindat in the southern part of Chin state, and later cut off its water supply, according to a spokesman for a local insurgent group.

 

Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.