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BosNewsLife (03/15/06) – A human rights group expressed concern Wednesday, March 15, over a possible new government crackdown on Christian villagers in Laos .

Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) said it learned that already Fifteen Khmu Christian families in the village of Ban Nam Haeng in Udomxai Province “received notice earlier this month that their homes were being confiscated and given to other families.”

Last year, the Laotian government unsuccessfully attempted to evict the Christian families, VOMC added. However “this time, hand-written notices were posted on each door, stating that all of their farm land was being confiscated and given to other villagers.”

Churches have been growing in rural villages across Laos , one of the few remaining official Communist states in Asia, BosNewsLife established in Laos recently. Human rights workers say authorities see Christianity as a threat to their powerbase and ideology.

PRAYERS URGED

VOMC said it had urged its supporters to “pray” amid concern that the latest developments in Udomxai Province will “not be followed by violence in enforcing the evictions.”

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), a religious rights group, said. As foreign missionaries have been banned from Laos , native Christians play an important part in Christian missions, according to Christian Aid Mission and other groups.

Lao Communist authorities have strongly denied human rights abuses and say they act only against those seen as a threat to society.

Of the over 6-million people living in Laos , just 1.5 percent are Christians, according to the US Central Intelligence Agency. Church leaders have suggested the real figure may be higher as they report a “revival” in villages across Laos .