Thursday, January 5, 2012

International Communique: No Christmas in Laos for Persecuted Christians

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- A coalition of Laotian and Hmong non-governmental organizations (NGOs) issued on Christmas Day a statement and international communique to raise awareness about ongoing religious persecution in Laos directed against Christian believers in the Southeast Asian nation.

They were joined by The Lao Movement for Human Rights and the Center for Public Policy Analysis.
Map of Laos
“Sadly, Laotian and Hmong Christians continue to be arrested, imprisoned and tortured in Laos by security forces and the army,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis.

“Again this year, many Protestant Christians and Roman Catholic believers in Laos are prohibited from celebrating Christmas, or are being arrested and imprisoned for seeking to practice their religious faith independent of government monitoring and control,” Smith said.

The Paris, France-based Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), in cooperation with the CPPA and other NGOs issued the following international communique on Christmas Day in English and French:


The statement continued:“On this day of joy, love and hope for Christians in the whole world, the Lao Movement for Human Rights wishes a Merry Christmas to the Christian community of Laos, particularly to those Christians arrested in the year 2011 and still detained to this day in the prisons of the Lao People’s Demcratic Republic (LPDR). The Lao Movement for Human Rights expresses its deep concerns on the plight of the Christians in LPDR, victims of threats and arrests in different provinces in the course of 2011, until these last days which were marked by an intimidation campaign aiming to prevent them from celebrating Christmas.”

The communique stated that on December 21, 2011, authorities of Natoo village, Phalansay district, Savannakhet province (South) threatened four leaders of a community of 47 Christians and “chased them from the village unless they renounced their faith.”

The communique says this intimidation happened less than a week after authorities of Boukham village (3 km from Natou), Adsaphanthong district, Savannakhet province, arrested eight leaders of a community of 200 Christians -- Mr. Phouphet, Mr Oun, Mr Somphong, Mr Ma, Mr Kai, Mr Wanta, Mr Kingmanosorn and Mrs Kaithong -- for having organized Christmas celebrations although a formal authorization has already been obtained. If Mr Kingmanosone was freed after a caution paid by the “Lao Evangelical Church,” the only Anglican Church recognized by the LPDR, the other persons are still in prison, their hand and legs blocked by wooden stocks.

“Just like the other past years, the LPDR government has not given a rest to the Christians who have continued to suffer in 2011,” the groups said in the joint-communique.

The Lao Movement for Human Rights recalled some recent cases:

** On January 4, 2011, the police of Nakoon village, Hinboun district, Khammouane province (Center) arrested nine Christians for “having celebrated Christmas without authorization.”. To this day, Pastor Vanna and Pastor Yohan are still continually imprisoned.

** On March 28, 2011, four Christians of Phoukong village, Viengkham district, Luang Prabang province (North) were arrested for “spreading foreign religion and evading Lao traditional religion.” In the same village, on July 11, 2011, another Christian, Mr Vong Veu, was arrested for having chosen the Christian religion, and is imprisoned until this day.

** In Luang Namtha province (North), Namtha district, village of Sounya, four Christians -- Mr Seng Aroun, Mr Souchiad, Mr Naikouang and Mr Kofa -- were arrested on July 10th, 2011 , for “having practiced Christianism.”

** On July 16, 2011, ten Christians were forced by the authorities to leave their village Nonsavang, Thapangthong district, Savannakhet province (South), after they refused to renounce their religion. These persons, including women and children, took refuge in their rice fields, 3 km from the village, by building a temporary bamboo shelter, but then, were again chased from their rice fields at the end of August 2011, with the promises that they could return to the village the day they renounce their religion.

The communique stated: “The Lao Movement for Human Rights firmly condemns these basic human rights violations against the Lao people, that are contrary to the International Conventions ratified by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and contrary to the LPDR Constitution’s provisions on ‘religious freedom.’

“The Lao Movement for Human Rights asks the LPDR government to implement its international engagements and agreements related to the United Nations on Human Rights with the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners detained for their faith or their opinion and in ending all forms of religious repression,” the LMHR statement concluded.

The international coalition of Laotian and Hmong non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which joined in support of the statement and international communique include the LMHR, the CPPA, Hmong Advancement, Inc., Hmong Advance, Inc., the United League for Democracy in Laos, United Lao for Human Rights and Democracy, the Laos Institute for Democracy, Inc., Laos Students for Democracy, the Lao Veterans of America and others.

Contact for further information:
Kristy Lee or Philip Smith 
Tel. (202) 543-1444
Center for Public Policy Analysis
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Suite No. 220
Washington, D.C. 20006 USA  

** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

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