Laos: Crackdown targets Hmong Christians
By Elizabeth Kendal
8/17/07 Laos (Assist) – The Laos government, still one of the world’s most severe abusers of religious liberty, has explicitly declared its intention to ‘eliminate Christianity’. The government not only severely persecutes Christians, it is also pursuing a genocidal war against the restive Hmong, using military means which include gross barbarity, chemical weapons (‘yellow rain’) and starvation.
In early June, ten people were arrested in California , USA , and charged with plotting a coup to overthrow the Laos government. The ringleaders of the alleged plot were Harrison Jack (60), a former US Army Ranger who led covert operations and worked with Hmong fighters during the Vietnam War, and Gen. Vang Pao (77), a prominent member of the Hmong community who emigrated to the US in the 1970s
The events in the US have triggered a major persecution against Christian Hmong in Laos , where it is assumed the Christians have US links. Compass Direct (CD) reported on 7 August that Lao government soldiers and police had killed at least 13 Hmong Christians in the previous month and that some 200 members of a 1900-strong Laos Evangelical Church in Ban Sai Jarern (north-western Laos ) were imprisoned. One source told CD that police are shooting on sight Christians they are searching for intensively in rice fields and mountains. Vietnamese police and soldiers have crossed into Laos seeking Vietnamese Hmong.
The authorities are accusing the churches of being linked to Gen. Vang Pao and that the pastors are preparing their congregations to participate in the coup. The churches however flatly deny the charges and maintain that they are good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Exploiting the situation, Communist village officials and committee members and other anti-Christian elements are agitating for a purge of Christians. Numerous church leaders have been seized. Police are pursuing others who are on the run.
On top of this, the Thai Prime Minister announced on 6 August that Thailand would return some 8000 ethnic Hmong refugees to Laos despite their claims they face persecution in their homeland. World leaders generally are indifferent to what they know is happening in Laos , which will apply for membership in the World Trade Organisation in 2008.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO –
- protect and sustain his Church amidst this terrible persecution, especially the Christian leaders – so vital for the Church – who are being specifically targeted by the authorities.
- speak comfort and love to the hearts of the Christian believers amongst the traumatised Hmong fleeing through the jungle or who are refugees in Thailand , so that they will not lose faith or hope; may he draw them to prayer and deliver them from their enemies. ‘From the Lord comes deliverance.’ (Psalm 3:8 NIV)
- turn the hearts of world leaders from indifference to indignation that leads to action (Proverbs 21:1).
- pour out his Spirit mightily on the majority Lao people, emboldening the Lao Church and opening Lao hearts to receive the gospel.