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Seven Christians Arrested in Laos for Meeting for Worship

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(Morning Star News) – Local officials in Laos arrested seven Christians for meeting for worship on Sunday (Sept. 28), according to a rights group.

The chief of Boukham village, in Atsaphangthong District, Savannakhet Province, along with village security officials and police arrested the Christians as they ate lunch after meeting for worship in the home of pastor Sompong Supatto, according to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

The pastor was held in handcuffs and leg stocks at press time, an HRWLRF spokesman said.

The local officials had issued an order the previous Sunday (Sept. 21) that Christians in the village were no longer allowed to gather for worship, but he gave no reason for the order, said the spokesman, whose name is withheld for security reasons.

“The authorities just did not want Christians to assemble for worship,” he said.

All seven Christians were still in detention at the Boukham village government headquarters. Christians have been assembling for corporate worship in Boukham village for more than three years, and the chief’s order violates religious freedom as stipulated in the country’s constitution, he said.

Arrested along with the pastor were Christians identified only as Manivanh, 60; Chai, 56; Anna, 50; Chanthanarm, 18; Neal, 21; and Petsamone, 40.

“The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to respect the right of the Lao people to religious freedom and the accompanying rights as guaranteed in the Lao constitution and the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009, upholding the individual’s right to adopt a religion/belief of choice as well as the right to manifest that religion/belief in a corporate worship (Article 18),” the representative said. “Any form of coercion impairing the freedom to have and manifest one’s religion/belief of choice is condemned in the Covenant.”

HRWLRF also urged the Lao government to punish the Boukham village chief and other village officials for illegally arresting the Christians.

Officials in the district have harassed other Christians. A pastor and four others were arrested in Saisomboon village on June 24, accused of murder after they prayed for a sick woman who later died.

The deceased, a mother of eight grown children in Savannakhet Province identified only by her surname of Chan, had been ill for two years with an unknown condition. Various kinds of healers and doctors in Saisomboon village had treated her without success, area residents told HRWLRF.

Chan came in April to a leader of the Saisomboon village church known only as Kaithong to be prayed for, and she became well for a short time, the HRWLRF representative said. Soon after, she became a Christian.

“Then, she suddenly passed away on June 21,” the representative told Morning Star News. “The police authorities charged Kaithong as well as the other four Christians/leaders who were present at the funeral of murder because she passed away.”

He added that authorities were searching for any excuse to try to stop the spread of Christianity and religious freedom in the area, where animist religious practices are prevalent. The population of Laos, a communist country, is 57 percent Buddhist and 34.7 percent “ethno-religionist,” various forms of animism, according to Operation World.

The Christian population of the country is estimated at 3.4 percent.

Morning Star News

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5 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Laotian Embassy to the US in Wash. DC 9am-12 om, 1 pm-4:30
    Phone# (1) 202 332 6416 Consular Office (1) 202 667 0076

    I am going to tell them, very sweetly, of my concern for my brothers and sisters there who are being persecuted for their constitutionally protected freedom of religion. It never hurts to leave a short testimony of what our loving God has done for us through the obedient work of His Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. At the very least it shows that we really do love one another.

  2. jeff says:

    I guess it’s time for me to leave my comfort zone…………I’ll make the call

  3. jeff says:

    they don’t speak or understand English 100% but if you speak slowly they understand………………………….make the call !

  4. Chris says:

    This was the most trying embassy call I have ever made. Perhaps a fax of all the pertinent information sent to an in country official or Human Rights group would be more helpful. These dear people probably always suffer persistent scorn and abuse and will have great reward in heaven. Something tells me that our brothers and sisters in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam need to have much more heartfelt prayer attention from the worldwide body of Christ.

    The thought of a 60 year old Pastor being put in stocks is particularly painful to me despite knowing the sheer horror of what is going on in the ME. So I request that somebody out there agree with me that this pastor is immediately let out of the stocks and allowed to be more comfortable. Thank you!

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