A beloved youth pastor was reportedly shot dead as he tried to help one of his congregants save their burning home after it was set ablaze by Myanmar’s military junta during an attack on civilians in Chin state on Saturday.
The pastor was identified in multiple social media posts as Cung Biak Hum of Thantlang Centennial Baptist Church. Information on his Facebook page shows that he was married with two sons and was pursuing a master's of divinity degree at MIT Yangon.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tom Andrews highlighted the pastor’s murder in a tweet Saturday and called on the international community to “pay closer attention” to the “living hell” civilians have been experiencing there since a Feb. 1 coup brought back full military rule following years of quasi-democracy.
“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. The world needs to pay closer attention. More importantly, the world needs to act,” Andrews noted.
In a statement Monday, the Baptist World Alliance, a global Christian group representing 49 million Baptists in 126 countries and territories, also highlighted disturbing details of Pastor Hum’s death as it sought the immediate release of another Baptist pastor, the Rev. Thian Lian Sang.
“On September 18, over 19 houses were burned down by military forces. Baptist Pastor Rev. Cung Biak Hum attempted to help as one of the houses belonged to a member of his church. Instead, upon his arrival on the scene, he was shot and killed by military soldiers — making him the first Baptist minister to die due to the ongoing conflicts. The military soldiers also stole his cellphone, watch and cut off his finger in order to steal his wedding ring,” the Virginia-based group said.
Prior to the military coup, Myanmar’s Parliament was scheduled to hold its first session since the country’s Nov. 8 elections in which the country’s leading civilian party, National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won 83% of available seats. The military refused to accept the results of the elections claiming there was fraud and detained the leaders of the National League for Democracy and other civilian officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, cabinet ministers, the chief ministers of several regions, opposition politicians, writers and activists The New York Times reported.
Street protests and civil disobedience has been growing since then and at least 1,109 people have lost their lives as a result of the violent repression of protests by security forces La Prensa Latina said.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that as of Monday, a total of 6,637 people are under detention in Myanmar. Some 280 people have been sentenced in-person, including 26 who have been sentenced to death. Two of those 26 are children.