Laos Forcing Christians To Renounce Faith

Friday, August 29, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

VIENTIANE, LAOS (BosNewsLife) -- Authorities in Laos have ordered families of three detained Christians in Savannakhet province to sign documents renouncing their faith in Jesus Christ, rights investigators said Thursday, August 28.

Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom said the chief of Boukham village in Savannakhet province gave the order, but added that the family members refused.

A crackdown in other parts of Laos continued, with new incidents reported this week in Attapue and Borikhamxay provinces, reported Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency.

On Monday, August 25, Christians in Donphai village in Attapue province were reportedly fined for holding a church service during local animistic ceremonies.


In Borikhamxay province, officials continued to pressure 22 Christian families comprising 150 people in Toongpankham village who have refused to give up their faith, Christians said. Village officials had torn down their church building in January, then in mid-August harassed church members for not meeting in a proper worship facility, according to rights investigators.

At least 90 Christians in Laos, including church leaders, have been detained in recent weeks as part of an apparent government backed crackdown on Christian worship services in several provinces of the Asian nation.

Although the Lao constitution "guarantees" freedom of religion and worship, church fellowships must be registered with government-approved institutions. Such registration comes with strict limitations on the activity of the church, however, and many Christians prefer not to register in the Communist-run country.

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