Sect leaders on the run in Ayeyarwady Region
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.