12/13/2018 Laos (International Christian Concern) – Three police officers in Laos arrested a grandmother and three other Christians while they were worshipping last month, according to an advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).
Local police on November 18 arrested the 78-year-old woman identified as Grandma Bounlam and three men identified by the surnames Duangtha, Khampan and Ponsawan, after they raided a church service in Keovilai village, Vilabouly District in Savannakhet Province. Victims were soon evicted them from their homes and property as well.
Based on HRWLRF’s press statement, “grandma Bounlam has been temporarily released from prison for medical treatment for her heart conditions in a local hospital. The other three believers are remaining in prison in handcuffs and feet stocks.”
Morning Star News reports that local Christians said police have threatened more severe punishment if the Lao Christians do not renounce Christianity, a religion considered an enemy of the single-party, Marxist-Leninist country. Villagers said the worshippers were arrested for believing in Jesus Christ.
HRWLRF urges the Lao government to punish the three police officers who acted illegally in arresting the four Christians and demands the immediate release of these Christians and restore them to their homes.
The Lao government officially recognizes four religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and the Baha’i, but the recognized Christian denominations are only the Catholic Church, the Laos Evangelical Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, according to the 2017 U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report.
The report also points out that government restrictions on registered and unregistered minority religious groups, particularly Protestants, remained “disproportionately limiting in certain remote regions.”
For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].