LAOS – The persecution of Christians still goes on in 2004: prison, forced renunciation, acts of intimidation, threats


MLDH

The anti-Christian campaign is still going on in 2004 in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR), where imprisonments, forced renunciation of faith, acts of violence, threats and all kinds of harassment have been reported in the entire country between the months of May and August, according to the reliable sources that reached the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR).


Indeed, in spite of the usual assurances and denials of the leaders of the Unique Party, a violent campaign of repression was launched by the LPDR authorities against the Christians of the Kasy district, a Vientiane province. In the Houa Muong village (Kasy district), eight Christian families of the Khmu ethnic minority were forced to sign an act of renunciation to their religious faith. Two Christians, Mr. KHAMPHAY and Mr. PHENG, who refused to sign such document, have been jailed since August 2 in the Kasy prison. In Ban Viengsamay, another village of the district, the authorities ordered the Christians to leave the locality because of their religious belief. Because of their refusal to leave, two Christians in charge, Mr. KHAMSAY and Mr. THONGSOUN, were arrested on August 2 and are still being held at the Kasy prison.


Other actions targeting Christians were reported in the Savannakhet (South) province. Indeed, following a meeting held on 11 August 2004, and chaired by a high ranked official of the Party (former president of the LPDR, currently the head of State advisor), it became forbidden for Christians to gather in their houses to pray. The Christians of the province are only allowed to practice their religion in a place officially recognized by the Government. The application of this rule had already been ordered in other places, such as the parish of Chonchia, in the Sonbouly district (Savannakhet).


The Christians of Vientiane (Center) have not been spared from this large persecution campaign. It is thus that a place of worship of the capital, which opened two years ago, was brutally shut upon order of the authorities one Sunday in May 2004, when fifty or so faithful were preparing the offices of the mass.


Other forms of violence have been reported. In the Nam Thuam village, in the Nam Bak district, province of Luangprabang (North), police agents discretionarily settled down in the homes of Christians. These agents of the Party watched every move of the Christian families which lodged and fed them. After many months, these same agents burnt these families’ harvests and confiscated their identification cards. Pushed to their limits, these Christians signed the act of renunciation in June 2004.


The LMHR condemns once again this repression campaign, which is contrary to the most fundamental human rights, as well as to the rights listed in the LPDR Constitution, and demands the immediate cessation of these acts.

The LMHR firmly denounces the double language of the LPDR leaders: beautiful sentences aiming at inducing into error the donators on the one hand, silent repression of all freedom on the other; release of few Christians when their imprisonment is revealed by the international media on the one hand, harassment of these same people after their release, and arrests of other Christians on the other.

The LMHR solemnly calls out to the LPDR authorities for the release of every Christian still in detention, and the granting of access to the country in the best possible delays to international observers, so that an investigation can be undertaken on the field and in all independence, on the situation of religious freedom in the LPDR.

The LMHR reiterates its call to the international community, particularly to the UN, the European Union an its Members, to the United States, to Australia, to Japan and to the ASEAN Members, inviting them to take urgent and concrete measures – in the framework of their relationship with the LPDR – so that the rights and freedoms listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are fully respected in Laos.


Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l’Homme ( MLDH)
Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR)
BP 123 - 77206 Torcy Cedex, France - Téléphone/Fax : 33 (0) 1 60 06 57 06
e-mail : mldh@mldh-lao.org