Sect lead­ers on the run in Aye­yarwady Re­gion

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - NAW BETTY HAN naw­bet­ty­han@mm­times.com

Six lead­ers be­long­ing to an out­lawed Chris­tian sect called New Par­adise Bap­tist Church evade police who want to ques­tion them about the dis­ap­pear­ance of some mem­bers.

SIX lead­ers of an out­lawed Chris­tian sect called New Par­adise Bap­tist Church evaded a re­cent police raid at their head­quar­ters in Ky­on­pyaw town­ship in Aye­yarwady Re­gion, a leg­is­la­tor said.

Daw Thi­dar Zin, a mem­ber of par­lia­ment in Aye­yarwady Re­gion’s Hlut­taw, said the police were ac­com­pa­nied by rel­a­tives of mem­bers who had gone miss­ing when they went to the church com­pound in Hle Sake vil­lage.

“The lead­ers who were wanted for ques­tion­ing were not at the sect’s com­pound when the police team ar­rived,” she said. “They fled from their com­pound as they may have been in­formed of the police want­ing to in­ves­ti­gate them.”

On Oc­to­ber 30, the ‘New Par­adise Bap­tist church’ was de­clared il­le­gal by the Karen Bap­tist con­ven­tion of Myan­mar be­cause their re­li­gious prac­tices are dif­fer­ent than those of the main­stream Bap­tist Church, and sev­eral peo­ple who went into the com­pound for Bi­ble stud­ies have gone miss­ing.

“The Aye­yarwady Re­gion govern­ment on Oc­to­ber 21 or­dered them (church lead­ers) to send back to their homes the peo­ple who came to study the Bi­ble in their com­pound,” said U Kyaw Myint, the min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and Re­li­gion for Aye­yarwady Re­gion. “But none of those peo­ple who went miss­ing have re­turned.”

The min­is­ter said that rel­a­tives of those who went miss­ing sued the sect’s lead­ers for un­law­ful assem­bly and kid­nap­ping.

“They were al­ready an­nounced as il­le­gal and they will be ar­rested when they are found by the police as there are pend­ing cases against them,” he said.

The sect was es­tab­lished in 2014 by a Sin­ga­porean named Mann Kyaw Soe and re­ports of peo­ple go­ing miss­ing started in early 2016.

There are over 2000 mem­bers who lived in the sect com­pound, in­clud­ing 100 stu­dents study­ing the Bi­ble who have gone miss­ing. The stu­dents did not re­turn to their res­i­dences af­ter they went to the com­pound even when their par­ents urged them to come home.

“They may have been vic­tims of sex­ual vi­o­lence and drugs be­cause the peo­ple be­have strangely af­ter they went into the com­pound,” said Rev Mahn Than Htun Aye, the spokesper­son of Poe Karen Bap­tist Con­ven­tion.

The Myan­mar Chris­tian Con­ven­tion (MCC) also re­leased the state­ment that the New Par­adise Bap­tist Church is a de­viant sect whose prac­tices are very dif­fer­ent from the main­stream Chris­tian churches and the sect is not part of the Myan­mar Chris­tian as­so­ci­a­tions, he said.

The Ky­on­pyaw police have de­clared as fugi­tives from law the six sect lead­ers for try­ing to evade police in­ves­ti­ga­tion or­dered by the court.

Naw Eh Mue, one of the par­ents of the miss­ing Bi­ble stu­dents at the New Par­adise Bap­tist Church com­pound ex­pressed grave con­cern about her daugh­ter.

‘’I only want to know what hap­pened to my daugh­ter. She dis­ap­peared af­ter at­tend­ing the Bi­ble study in their church and since then she has not con­tacted us. I want to take her back as soon as pos­si­ble,’’ she said.

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