Fifty Christians Facing Eviction in Laos for Turning to Christ
ICC Note: As one of the five remaining Communist nations on earth, Laos continues to treat religious minorities with contempt. In rural areas Christians, especially newly-converted Christians, face intimidation and harassment at the hands of local authorities. Late last month a large group of 11 Christian families were told they must “recant” their Christian faith or face forced eviction from their homes.
9/3/2013 Laos (HRWLRF) – On Friday, August 30, 2013, the Nongdaeng village authorities, led by the village chief, summoned representatives of 11 Christian families to appear before an official meeting at the village government headquarters concerning religious affairs in the village. In the meeting, officials ordered all 11 families (consisting of 50 individuals) to recant of their Christian faith and return to their traditional (animist) religion. They charged these Lao Christians with believing the religion of a foreign Western power which is considered destructive to the Lao nation. Officials expressed their intention that no Christian faith can be adhered to or practiced in Nongdaeng.
The order took effect immediately on August 30, 2013. Christians were given three days to abide by the order. However, on Sunday, September 1, Nongdaeng continued the practice of their Christian faith and conducted worship in one of their homes. Lao Christians insisted that they have religious right and protection under the Lao constitution to practice their faith Nongdaeng.
Between April and May 2013, three Lao Christian families began worshipping God in their homes in Nongdaeng village. Prior to that period of time, they had been traveling to Nonsomboon village for worship, which is about 70 kilometers from Dongdaeng. After beginning the worship in their homes, eight other families in Nongdaeng became interested in the Christian faith and decided to embrace Christianity themselves, resulting in a total of 11 Christian families at the present time. These families are as follows: Mr. Tuey (group leader), 7 believers; Mr. Yar (group leader), 6; Mrs. Cheu, 2; Mr. Nga, 7; Mrs. Ta, 3; Mr. Wandee, 7; Mrs Souk, 4; Mr. Sit, 4; Mrs. Sun, 2; Mrs. Nit, 3; and Mr. Boun, 5.
The HRWLRF is calling on the Lao government to allow the Lao people living in Nongdaeng to believe in the Christian faith. Their religious right to decide the religion of their choice should be respected. In addition, the HRWLRF is urging the Lao government to punish officials, including the village chief, for illegally issuing an eviction order that has now brought hardship to the lives as well as defamation of the name and honor of Nongdaeng villagers who are Christians.