OPINION: No Christmas for Lao Christians

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December 28, 2011 1:00 am

Again this year, many Christians in Laos are prohibited from celebrating Christmas, or are being arrested and imprisoned for seeking to practice their faith independent of government control.

Lao and Hmong Christians continue to be arrested, imprisoned and tortured in Laos by security forces and the army.

On December 21, authorities of Natoo village, Phalansay district, Savannakhet province threatened four leaders of a community of 47 Christians and “chased them from the village unless they renounced their faith”. This intimidation happened less than a week after authorities of Boukham village, Adsaphanthong district, Savannakhet province, arrested eight leaders of a community of 200 Christians for having organised Christmas celebrations, although a formal authorisation had already been obtained. The arrested persons are still in prison, their hands and legs blocked by wooden stocks.

On January 4, 2011 the police of Nakoon village, Hinboun district, Khammouane province arrested nine Christians for having celebrated Christmas without authorisation. To this day, Pastor Vanna and Pastor Yohan are imprisoned.

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

On July 16, 10 Christians were forced by the authorities to leave their village in Nonsavang, Thapangthong district, Savannakhet province after they refused to renounce their religion. They took refuge in their rice fields, building a temporary bamboo shelter, but were chased away at the end of August, with the warning that they could return to the village only if they renounced their religion.

The Lao Movement for Human Rights firmly condemns these basic human rights violations 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 Lao government to implement its international engagements related to the UN agreements 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.

Philip Smith

Washington, DC

ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE

International Communique: No Christmas in Laos For Persecuted Christians

Washington, D.C., Paris, France and Vientiane, Laos, December 25, 2011
Center for Public Policy Analysis
info@centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

The Lao Movement for Human Rights, the Center for Public Policy Analysis, and a coalition of Laotian and Hmong non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have issued a statement and international communique, on Christmas Day, to raise awareness about ongoing religious persecution in Laos directed against Christian believers in the Southeast Asian nation.

“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.”
http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

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:

“ LAOS : MERRY CHRISTMAS TO CHRISTIANS WHO ARE THE VICTIMS OF THREATS, INTIMIDATION AND ARREST,” the LMHR proclaimed.

“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.

“On 21 December 2011, authorities of Natoo village, Phalansay district, Savannakhet province (South) threatened four leaders of a community of forty seven Christians and ‘’chasing them from the village unless they renounce their faith’’. 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 recognised 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 list is long. The Lao Movement for Human Rights recalls some cases :

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

“ On March28th, 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 11th, 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 16th, 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 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) joining 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.

From CPPA
In French:


Communiqué



LAOS : JOYEUX NOËL AUX CHRETIENS VICTIMES DE MENACES , D ’INTIMIDATIONS ET D’ARRESTATIONS


En ce jour de joie, d’amour et d’espérance pour la chrétienté du monde entier, le Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l’Homme ( MLDH), présente ses vœux de Joyeux Noël à la communauté chrétienne du Laos, et plus particulièrement aux chrétiens laotiens arrêtés au cours de l’année 2011 et encore détenus à cette date dans les prisons de la République Démocratique Populaire Lao (RDPL).


Le MLDH exprime ses profondes inquiétudes sur le sort des chrétiens en RDPL, victimes de menaces et d’arrestations dans divers provinces au cours de cette année 2001, jusqu’à ces derniers jours marqués par une campagne d’intimidations visant à les empêcher de célébrer Noël.

Ainsi, le 21 décembre 2011, les autorités du village de Natou, district de Phalansay, province de Savannakhet (Sud), ont convoqué quatre responsables d’une communauté de quarante sept chrétiens du village, menaçant de les ’chasser du village à moins qu’ils ne renoncent à la pratique de leur foi’’.

Cet événement intervient moins d’une semaine après que les autorités du village Boukham ( localisé à cinq kilomètres de Natou), district Adsaphangthong, province de Savannakhet, ont arrêté huit responsables d’une communauté de 200 chrétiens — MM. Phouphet, Oun, Somphong, Ma, Kai, Wanta, Kingmanosorn et Mme Kaithong — pour avoir organisé les célébrations de Noël, malgré une autorisation déjà obtenue en bonne et due forme. Si Mr Kingmanosone a été libéré sous caution payée par le ‘’Lao Evangelical Church’’, seule église protestante reconnue par la RDPL, les sept autres sont toujours en détention, leurs mains et pieds bloqués dans des carcans en bois

Comme les autres années, le gouvernement de la RDPL n’a pas donné de répit aux chrétiens qui n’ont pas fini de souffrir en 2011 La liste est longue. Le MLDH en rappelle quelques cas :

* Le 4 janvier 2011, la police du village de Nakoun, district de Hinboun, province de Khammouane (Centre), a arrêté manu militari neuf chrétiens pour avoir ‘’célébré Noël sans autorisation’’. A ce jour, le pasteur Vanna et le pasteur Yohan sont toujours emprisonnés.

* Le 28 mars 2011, quatre chrétiens du village de Phoukong, district de Viengkham, province de LuangPrabang (Nord) ont été détenus pour avoir ‘’propagé la religion chrétienne’’. Dans le même village, le 11 juillet 2011, un autre chrétien, Mr Vong Veu a été arrêté pour avoir choisi la religion chrétienne, et reste à ce jour en prison pour avoir refusé de renoncer à sa foi.

*Dans la province de Luang Namtha, district Namtha, le village de Sounya, quatre chrétiens, MM. Seng Aroun, Souchiad, Naikouang et Kofa sont arrêtés le 10 juillet 2011 pour ‘’avoir pratiqué de la chrétienté’’.

*Le 16 juillet 2011, dix chrétiens ont été chassés du village Nonsavang, district de Thapangthonh, province de Savannakhet (Sud) par les autorités après qu’ils aient refusé de renoncer à la pratique de leur religion. Ces personnes, incluant femmes et enfants, se sont réfugiés dans leurs rizières ( à 3 kms du village) en construisant des abris en bambous. Fin août 2011, ils furent également chassés de leurs rizières, avec la promesses qu’ils pourraient retourner au village lorsqu’ils auront quitté leur religion.

Le Mouvement Lao pour les Droits de l’Homme condamne fermement ces violations des droits fondamentaux de la population laotienne, contraires aux Conventions Internationales ratifiées par la République Démocratique Populaire Lao, et contraires à la Constitution de la RDPL traitant de “la liberté religieuse”.

Le MLDH exige au gouvernement de respecter ses engagements internationaux liés à la déclaration des Nations Unies sur les Droits de l’Homme en procédant à la libération immédiate et inconditionnelle de tous les prisonniers détenus en raison de leur opinion ou de leur croyance et en mettant fin à toute répression religieuse.


end.

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