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Laotian Missionary Murdered in Laos Province (WRAPUP)
BosNewsLife

Christian Aid Mission (CAM), an organization supporting native missionaries in the region, told BosNewsLife that Missionary Aroun Warapong, who was also an evangelical pastor, went missing December 22 “after leading a Christmas service in rural Pakading district [of] Borikhamsay province.”


CAM said that Warapong, whose name has also been spelled as Voraphom, “left after the service to return to his home village of Heuysiak in Phaksan district [to] celebrate Christmas with his family. However, he never made it home that night.”


Warapong’s family began a search for him “that culminated tragically the next day, when they found his body abandoned in a creek, his throat slashed and his chest stabbed,” CAM claimed.


LEFT DEAD

“His face was all bruised and beaten and [he was] left dead,” one witness was quoted as saying. It was not immediately clear whether or not the murder was religiously motivated, but CAM said Warapong had been persecuted before.


“About two years ago, he was arrested and imprisoned for over a year because of his outspoken faith. After his release, he continued preaching the Gospel despite many threats against him,” CAM recalled.


However “now he is with the Savior and has finished his race strongly and faithfully,” added a co-worker in published remarks. Warapong leaves behind his wife, Ta, and their children. His funeral was held on Christmas Eve, December 24, said the France based Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR).


INVESTIGATION DEMANDED

“The LMHR expresses its deepest feelings and strong indignation to the murder of Pastor Aroun…It calls on the authorities of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) to start without any delay an impartial and independent investigation on this intolerable murder of a religious official..,” the group added in a statement to BosNewsLife.


CAM suggested the attack underscored that while parts of Laos experienced “increased religious freedom” in recent months, “other more isolated areas remain dangerous for Christian workers.”


Church sources told a BosNewsLife team in remote areas of northern Laos that the Communist government is desperate to stop the spread of Christianity, which it allegedly regard as an unwelcome Western religion.

CHIEFS DISMISSED

Village chiefs and other state workers as well as pastors and other Christians have been pressured by Communist authorities to give up their Christian faith, with security forces using torture and detention against resisting believers, BosNewsLife learned.

Authorities have refused to allow the official import of Bibles, Christian Freedom International (CFI) said. As foreign missionaries have been banned from Laos , native Christians play an important part in Christian missions, CAM and other groups say.


Lao Communist authorities have strongly denied human rights abuses and say they act only against those seen as a threat to society. Officially Christians comprise about 1.5 percent of the over 6-million people living in Laos , but pastors suggest that figure may be higher as churches are growing in rural areas.