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Members Of Lao Security Forces Discharged For Accepting Christian Faith

06/22/2012 Laos (HRWLRF) - At the end of May 2012, Khamsorn and Tonglai, who served as members of Alowmai’s village security forces, made a decision to accept the Christian faith. Shortly after that, family members of both Khamsorn and Tonglai also accepted the Christian faith. Subsequently, the chief of Alowmai village reported of their acceptance of Christianity to the Chudsume sub-district police chief. However, the police chief maintained that their embracing of the Christian faith did not disqualify them from serving in the security forces since all Lao nationals have the right to believe in any religion.

Dissatisfied with the response of the sub-district police chief, the village chief reported Khamsorn's and Tonglai's acceptance of the Christian faith to the Phin district military command in charge of all village security forces throughout Phin district. Thus, approximately 3:00 PM on June 14, 2012, the Phin district military command discharged Khamsorm and Tonglai from active duty in the village security forces and took away their firearms that came with their position. Their dismissal from security service came as a consequence of their decision to accept the Christian faith. Although Kahmsorn and Tonglai have faithfully served to protect the Lao nation and the people who reside in their village, they are now being punished and dishonored due to their religious affiliation.

The HRWLRF calls on the Lao government to respect the right of the Lao nationals to religious freedom—to adhere to any religion of choice as guaranteed under the Lao constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by the Lao government—and to restore Khamsorn and Tonglai to active duty in the security forces.

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