village, southern Laos have ordered six more Christian families to renounce
their faith or face expulsion in early January, advocacy group Human Rights
Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) reported.
security forces, recently approached the six families with the threat after
having expelled 11 Christian families, totaling 48 people, at gunpoint last
January. The six families now under threat had become Christians since the
including the confiscation of livestock and other property, the detention of 80
men, women and children in a school compound and the death by asphyxiation of a
Christian villager. (See www.compassdirect.org,
“Lao officials Force Christians from Worship at Gunpoint,” Feb. 8.)
Christians despite the obvious risk to their personal safety, according to
HRWLRF. The village chief allowed them to remain in Katin but warned all
villagers that their own homes would be “torn down” if they made contact with
the expelled Christians.
adequate shelter, food and water, leading to eye and skin infections, diarrhea,
dehydration and even the death of one villager. Katin authorities also denied
Christian children access to the village school. (See www.compassdirect.org,
“Christians Expelled from Village Suffer Critical Illnesses,” May 14.)
Katin and take rice from their family barns to prevent starvation, said another
source on condition of anonymity. Some families then tried to cultivate their
rice fields to avoid losing them completely, but the work was extremely
difficult as authorities had confiscated their buffaloes, essential to
agriculture in Laos.
district religious affairs office met with the evicted families in their
shelters at the edge of the jungle and encouraged them to return to Katin,
designate a Christian “zone” within Katin to avoid conflict with non-believers;
that all forms of persecution end; that their children return to school; that
Christians must be granted the right of burial in the village cemetery; and that
the village award compensation for six homes destroyed in the January
village officials and local residents rejected them, insisting that they would
only allow the Christians to return if they gave up their faith. The higher
officials invoked Decree 92, a law guaranteeing the rights of religious
minorities, but village heads said they would shoot every Christian who returned
became Christians, according to HRWLRF.
with the remainder unspecified. Article 6 and Article 30 of the Lao Constitution
guarantee the right of Christians and other religious minorities to practice the
religion of their choice without discrimination or penalty.