Seven Christians Arrested in Laos for Meeting in Worship

Laos(Morning Star News) Local officials in Laos arrested seven Christians for meeting for worship on Sunday (Sept. 28), according to a rights group.

The chief of Boukham village, in Atsaphangthong District, Savannakhet Province, along with village security officials and police arrested the Christians as they ate lunch after meeting for worship in the home of pastor Sompong Supatto, according to Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

The pastor was held in handcuffs and leg stocks at press time, an HRWLRF spokesman said.

The local officials had issued an order the previous Sunday (Sept. 21) that Christians in the village were no longer allowed to gather for worship, but he gave no reason for the order, said the spokesman, whose name is withheld for security reasons.

“The authorities just did not want Christians to assemble for worship,” he said.

All seven Christians were still in detention at the Boukham village government headquarters. Christians have been assembling for corporate worship in Boukham village for more than three years, and the chief’s order violates religious freedom as stipulated in the country’s constitution, he said.

Arrested along with the pastor were Christians identified only as Manivanh, 60; Chai, 56; Anna, 50; Chanthanarm, 18; Neal, 21; and Petsamone, 40.

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“The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to respect the right of the Lao people to religious freedom and the accompanying rights as guaranteed in the Lao constitution and the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009, upholding the individual’s right to adopt a religion/belief of choice as well as the right to manifest that religion/belief in a corporate worship (Article 18),” the representative said. “Any form of coercion impairing the freedom to have and manifest one’s religion/belief of choice is condemned in the Covenant.”

HRWLRF also urged the Lao government to punish the Boukham village chief and other village officials for illegally arresting the Christians.

Officials in the district have harassed other Christians. A pastor and four others were arrested in Saisomboon village on June 24, accused of murder after they prayed for a sick woman who later died.

The deceased, a mother of eight grown children in Savannakhet Province identified only by her surname of Chan, had been ill for two years with an unknown condition. Various kinds of healers and doctors in Saisomboon village had treated her without success, area residents told HRWLRF.

Chan came in April to a leader of the Saisomboon village church known only as Kaithong to be prayed for, and she became well for a short time, the HRWLRF representative said. Soon after, she became a Christian.

“Then, she suddenly passed away on June 21,” the representative told Morning Star News. “The police authorities charged Kaithong as well as the other four Christians/leaders who were present at the funeral of murder because she passed away.”

He added that authorities were searching for any excuse to try to stop the spread of Christianity and religious freedom in the area, where animist religious practices are prevalent. The population of Laos, a communist country, is 57 percent Buddhist and 34.7 percent “ethno-religionist,” various forms of animism, according to Operation World.

The Christian population of the country is estimated at 3.4 percent.

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  • Bruce Morrow

    Unfortunately we live in a fallen world and Jesus foretold that those who believe in him will suffer persecution for his name’s sake, even death.

  • Les Ellrodt

    This is the fallen world we live in. Satan in his raging hate for God and Jesus is trying to kill the church or at least take as many Christians down with him. This is just the beginning as we will see overt persecution in the third world countries as their populations are easier to control. We already are seeing the beginnings of this in our nation as the legalization of Gay marriage (in my opinion) is the first domino to fall leading to total validation and justification of the homosexual life style regardless of what the Bible says. It is happening in the military as Chaplains are being discharged at an alarming rate for speaking the truth of God’s word. Service members who proselytize to their fellow soldiers and sailors are being discharged. Why is this happening in our country? Well our President is letting this happen. Our President did nothing while thousands of Christians were tortured and massacred in Iraq until public outrage finally forced him to do something. Do you really think that George Bush, Ronald Reagan or even Bill Clinton would have stood silent during these atrocities.

    Back to my point, these things must happen and will happen but what should we as Christians do? I watched the first 15 minutes of monumental and what Curt Cameron said really struck me. He basically acknowledged everything that is going on and stated that friends at his church said that this was all a good thing and that we should simply deal with it and pray as these things must come to pass. I agreed with this philosophy until he discussed the Puritans in England who lived in a time where you could be put to death for having an English language Bible. They had a king who proclaimed himself to be God and demanded full allegiance. I try to put myself in their black buckled shoes and think to myself ” did they feel the same way we feel?”

    Did they feel that they should simply put their heads down and pray? No they decided to take action. They decided to leave England and start fresh in a new land. Let me clarify something. I am not marginalizing end time prophesy as I strongly feel that we are in the end times but I am struggling and praying over what we as Christians should do about the things that are going on in the World and in our Nation.

    What does God want us to do? I know the obvious in that we need to share the Gospel with everyone out of love for our fellow men and woman. We as Christians want to see everyone we know and care about saved. I know we need to love our fellow men and woman no matter how evil or repulsive they are. We need to do this because God loves everyone on this planet be they ISIS people to Putin with the same level or more than we love our own children. But what else are we supposed to do? Should we become more politically active trying to elect the right people in an attempt to change the direction of our Nation and the World. I ask anyone who has taken the time to read this rant to answer and give their opinion.

  • nilson uy

    I believe that we should abide with the law. The law says no gathering of people even for worship purposes. Then we can worship our God in our own private way like reading our Bible and praying at home. The Laos government have reasons to order laws and ordinances to prevent insurgency. So those people who were arrested should have listened to the law in the first place. What i mean here is, we must use our common sense. We must respect the order of the government.