Posts tagged ‘Religious Freedom’

March 22, 2014

Religious Freedom: Christian Converts in Laos Told to Leave Faith or Face Expulsion

Christian Converts in Laos Told to Leave Faith or Face Expulsion; Eight Families Under Threat of Being Expelled from Village

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By Jeremy Reynalds/Assist News

March 21, 2014

Lao village. (News4Christians)

More than two dozen Christian converts in a village in southern Laos could be expelled for their faith if government officials fail to keep local authorities from violating their constitutional rights, according to an advocacy group.

A story by Morning Star News reported that the Christians from eight families in Natahall village, in Savannakhet Province’s Phin District, were told to renounce their faith three months ago, according to a representative with Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).
“The threats are very real … Officials are still intending to carry out the threats. The deadline for expulsion has passed,” said the HRWLRF source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source added, “Christian residents of Natahall village are fighting hard to keep their homes as well as their constitutionally guaranteed right to believe in the Christian faith.”

Religious affairs officials from Phin District are holding discussions with the Natahall village chief, identified only as Amka, leaders of the local chapter of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and district police. The threat of expulsion, however, has not been withdrawn, the source said.

Local officials on Dec. 2 sent an eviction order to five Christian families, according to HRWLRF.

On Dec. 8 2013, the village chief publicly declared that the Christian families who had converted to Christianity would be held responsible for any deaths villagers might suffer as a result of spirits angered by violation of traditional beliefs and customs. Animism and ancestor worship are prevalent across Laos.

Morning Star News said the village chief offered to relocate the Christian families to another village in the same province. Not only did the Christians refuse to renounce their faith, but three more families in the village put their trust in Christ, the source said.

On March 11, the village chief and local police summoned the eight Christian families for a four-hour meeting and once again ordered them to abandon their faith.

“We fought to get rid of the Americans, and now you are bringing their religion into our homes,” an official told the Christians, according to the HRWLRF source.

Sections of the Hmong tribe in Laos and Vietnam, some of whom were Christians, sided with the United States in the fight against communism in Southeast Asia.

HRWLRF has urged the communist government of Laos to allow the Christian families to exercise their religious freedom as guaranteed in the country’s constitution.

Article 30 of the 1991 constitution recognizes religious freedom, saying, “Lao citizens have the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religions.”

However, to restrict religious freedom, the government often cites Article 9, which reads, “All acts of creating division of religions and classes of people are prohibited.”
In 2004, then-U.S. President George W. Bush extended normal trade relations to Laos, overlooking calls from human rights groups for the continuation of the boycott of the communist regime.

The legislation Bush signed into law to normalize relations with Laos argued that “expanding bilateral trade relations that include a commercial agreement may promote further progress by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on human rights, religious tolerance, democratic rule, and transparency, and assist that country in adopting regional and world trading rules and principles.”

However, Morning Star News reported, critics claim that the U.S. decision has not reduced persecution of Christians and other minorities, which involves expulsion from villages, forced relocation, pressure to recant faith, arrest, destruction of livestock and crops and closure of churches.

Laos has been a single-party state since the end of the Laotian civil war in 1975. The government also keeps the majority Buddhist population somewhat under its control. It severely restricts freedom of assembly and association as well, apparently out of fear that any unrestrained grouping in the country might one day become a threat to communist rule.

Morning Star News said the HRWLRF notes that the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009, upholds the right to adopt a religion/belief of choice as well as the right to manifest that religion/belief in a corporate worship (Article 18).

Any form of coercion impairing the freedom to have and manifest one’s religion/belief of choice is condemned in the Covenant.

©2014Assist News

July 26, 2013

Marco Rubio Grills Ambassador Nominees on Dedication to Religious Freedom in Malaysia, Laos

Marco Rubio Grills Ambassador Nominees on Dedication to Religious Freedom in Malaysia, Laos

By Katherine Weber , Christian Post Reporter
July 25, 2013|5:14 pm

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has questioned two Asian-Pacific ambassador nominees on their commitment to religious freedom in the region.

The questioning took place at a Senate Foreign Relations meeting earlier this week, in which Rubio, a rising star in the GOP party, questioned Daniel Clune, a nominee to become ambassador of Laos, and Joseph Yun, a nominee for the ambassador of Malaysia, on their commitment to religious freedom in each country.

Rubio pointed to several recent alleged human rights and religious transgressions involving the Asian-Pacific countries, including the recent incident in May in which Laotian authorities arrested nine North Korean defectors en route to South Korea, and sent them back to their homeland where they were likely to face punishment in labor camps for their “disloyalty.”

Rubio also referenced, among other incidences, issues for religious minorities in Malaysia, a predominately Muslim country where recently the country’s leaders rebuked a Vatican official’s suggestion that the term “Allah” (the Arabic word for “God”) be used on Christian churches in the country.

The Florida senator told the nominees that he sees, especially in Malaysia, an “increasing encroachment on religious liberties, which I think is an essential human right.”

Rubio asserted that he hopes the nominees, if confirmed to be ambassadors, do not simply monitor religious persecution, but become forceful advocates for religious minorities around the world.

“Our hope is that if you are confirmed, you won’t just monitor and bring [to our] attention [the issues], but that you’ll be a forceful advocate on behalf of those being oppressed,” Rubio said. “I think it’s important for the U.S. that our representative there be someone who speaks clearly on these issues.”

According to The Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The Brody File”, Rubio’s dedication to religious liberty, both on a national and international scale, could serve him well with the evangelical vote should he choose to run for president in 2016, as some political pundits predict.

Rubio wrote in May 2013 that he feels it is the responsibility of the U.S. to ensure religious liberty is awarded to all around the world.

“[Religious liberty is] a fundamental human right that many of our ancestors did not have before they came to America,” Rubio wrote at the time.

“With this great blessing comes great responsibility to help ensure that others around the world can freely exercise their religious freedom as well,” Rubio added.

Daniel Clune, the nominee for ambassador of Laos, currently serves as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the State Department, while Joseph Yun works as the principal deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department.

July 13, 2011

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 2011 Annual Report

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(U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom kept Laos on the Commission’s Watch List for 2011)


Annual Report

Laos Chapters

Laos Chapter – 2011 Annual Report

Laos Chapter – 2010 Annual Report

Laos Chapter – 2009 Annual Report (English)

Laos Chapter – 2009 Annual Report (Lao)

Laos Chapter – 2008 Annual Report

Laos Chapter – 2007 Annual Report

Laos Chapter – 2006 Annual Report

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