Hakha – CDF (Chinland Defence Force) finally released its abducted Catholic priest of Surkhu town, Fr. Noel Hrang Tin Thang and a catechist Clement Cung Hnin, who lives in Dum Va village, on 4 August.
Rev. Father Paul Thla Kio confirmed to Gloria News Journal that the pair were finally released by Hakha – CDF on 4 August and they are already in their homes with their families in Surkhua town. Additionally he said the delegation of Bishop signed (4) points conditions for their release which were demanded by the militia.
(1). The priest must cut off any contact with the Myanmar military.
(2). He must avoid reporting the evils of CDF to others.
(3). He must avoid implementing government projects which are actually essential infrastructures for regional development.
(4). He must move from Surkhua where he is the parish priest of Catholic Church, to Hakha immediately.
An armed resistance group opposed to Myanmar’s military junta in the western state of Chin has seized a Catholic priest and a catechist travelling with him.
Members of the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) seized Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang along with a catechist Clement Cung Hnin while they were travelling from Surkhua town to Chin state capital, Hakah on July 26, 2021. Both belong to Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Surkhua town in Hakha Diocese.
Local Bishop Lucius Hre Kung of Hakha has called for their release, expressing concern for their safety and well-being nearly a week after their abduction.
“I call on the concerned leaders of the CDF to immediately release the pair,” Bishop Hre Kung said in a letter released on August 1. Local Catholics have also expressed concern and said prayers for the immediate release of the cleric and the catechist.
Father Tin Thang has been helping dozens of displaced people including the elderly, women and children who took refuge in the parish following clashes in early June, according to Fr. Paul Thla Kio and people from Surkhua town.
Following the letter of Bishop Hre Kung, the CDF said the priest and catechist were in good health.
The group accused the priest of giving information to the military junta, getting medical support from the junta and urging locals to receive the junta’s support. The group said it had warned the clergy not to contact the military’s security force they had to arrest Father Tin Thang as he failed to comply. “We will release them only after our demands of transferring the priest from Surkhua to Hakha and signing letters of recommendation from two church leaders are fulfilled,” the group said. The local community denies Father Tin Thang had any involvement with the security force.
Father Paul Thla Kio, a priest of Hakha Diocese told the Vatican’s Fides news agency that the CDF has seen Father Tin Thang having contacts with a general of the army. Father Thla Kio explained that the general, who is a Catholic and attends Masses, often went to the priests’ residence. In fact, Father Tin Thang asked the general to avoid violence.
Hakha – CDF (Chinland Defence Force) is a tribal based local militia, set up after the Myanmar military seized power from elected NLD government, 1 February 2021. This militia group was formed on April 4, 2021. According to official statement of Hakha – CDF, The Chinland’s Defense Force goals are to protect civilians from the terrorist military council, abolition of the 2008 Myanmar constitution, to end the dictatorship and to establish a federal union.