5/9/11 Laos (ReleaseInternational) – Lao and Vietnamese troops killed four Christian women in front of their families – amid an apparent crackdown on ‘dissidents’ in Laos.
The Lao People’s Army, supported by soldiers and secret police from Vietnam, seized a group of Hmong in Xiengkhouang Province and confiscated their Bibles. Soldiers then shot and killed four of the women, after repeatedly raping two of them, according to Voice of the Martyrs Canada.
Their husbands and children were reportedly beaten, tied up and forced to witness the killings in mid-April. It is not known where the survivors are now.
The Centre for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington DC reports that Vietnamese secret police and soldiers are being deployed inside Laos in increasing numbers as part of a communist crackdown on groups perceived as dissident.
VOM Canada too refers to what it calls a ‘disturbing increase of repression’ facing Christians in Laos. The CPPA traces the start of the crackdown to late 2010.
It is not known whether the Hmong group was targeted because of their ethnicity or their religion. The communist regime in Laos is particularly repressive of ethnic minority groups such as the Hmong, but it also encourages – sometimes enforces – Buddhism to impose a sense of national unity and identity. The mainly Christian Hmong are targeted on both accounts.
Protestant Christians in general and the Hmong Christian community in particular are viewed by officials and other sections of Lao society as being pro-Western and therefore a threat to communist rule.