Laos Local Authorities Ban Worship, Expel Christians
Laos Local Authorities Ban Worship, Expel Christians: According to a source, on Sunday (Oct. 1), officials in another province stopped a house church’s worship service and threatened to arrest the members. This comes one month after a Christian family in Salavan Province, Laos, lost their home and were ejected for their faith.
In Savannakhet Province’s Khampou village, Assaphone District, the village deputy village chief and local security officials disrupted the service on Sunday (Oct. 1) and ordered church leader Sard Onmeunsee and 17 other Christians to stop the worship, according to Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).
“They were threatened with arrest and a huge fine if they did not follow the officials’ order to discontinue exercising their religious freedom or belief to worship,” HRWLRF said in a press statement.
The officials also threatened to penalize the Christians heavily if other villagers fell ill or died on the grounds that the churchgoers had offended spirits or gods by converting to Christianity. In addition, two Christians from a nearby town who attended the service reportedly received threats of instant imprisonment if they returned to the church for worship.
“Thus began pressures and threats from the local government upon Christians, coercing them to give up their religious faith,” the group stated. “The local government subjected Christians to intimidation, threats, and coercion throughout 2022 and 2023, forcing them to abandon their Christian religion until today.
According to a report by HRWLRF, “in Salavan Province, a family of seven remains prohibited from returning to Tabong village, Sa Mouay District, after village governing and security officials destroyed their home and imprisoned them arbitrarily at a police station on September 3 for refusing to renounce their faith.
“They are still being barred by village authorities from returning to their village, Tabong,” Sirikoon Prasertsee, director of HRWLRF, told Morning Star News. “Currently, they are residing at a temporary shelter at a government school in the Sa Mouay District. They will be allowed back into the village if they give up their Christian faith.”