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Pastor and five more Christians arrested in Laos

Sirikoon Prasertsee - director of Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom - confirmed that a pastor and five worshippers had been taken into custody for practicing their Christian traditions.

Pastor Mum converted to Christianity in 2019, established his church and practised his faith without issues until May 2024, when a new village chief came into power.

Mrs Prasertsee stated: “The arrests took place on Saturday at Mr Mum’s home while they were meeting for prayer in preparation for Sunday morning worship on the following day. They are currently being imprisoned in the Xaibouathong District prison. Others in Tahae village and nearby villages also have exercised their right to religious freedom to accept the Christian faith. The new main village chief was appointed to govern Tahae village, and the crackdown on Christian freedom and practices became severe that led to the arrest of Mr. Mum and five Lao believers.”

Article 30 of the Lao Constitution guarantees religious freedom and the right to practice one’s faith, allowing Lao citizens “to believe or not to believe in religion.”

The U.S. Department of State released a report on international religious freedom on Wednesday. According to this, authorities use inappropriate restrictions on religious groups. Lao Evangelical Church leaders described how local authorities compelled 79 Christian families from Xaybuathong, Yommalath and Bualapha districts in Khammouane Province to sign documents renouncing their faith in 2023. The statement reads: “Reports continued of local authorities, especially in isolated villages, discriminating against and sometimes expelling followers of minority religious groups, particularly Christians, for refusing to renounce their faith. In September and October, local officials in rural areas in Sa Mouay District, Salavan Province, reportedly destroyed homes of Christian converts across four villages, forcing families to leave. According to sources, officials offered land to some of the families for rebuilding homes in one village but without other compensation.”

Open Doors U.K. reported several incidents in the past few months. Angry villagers demolished numerous Christian homes in the south of Laos. Dey, a local Open Doors spokesperson, stated: “Newly converted believers are being harassed by house-knocking, which is being led by the village chiefs in each area. The community try to do everything to kick all new believers out of the villages. They told them that putting their faith in Jesus Christ will upset the spirits.”

Many villages refuse to allow Christian burials. Local authorities also burst in on house churches and confiscated their hymnbooks and Bibles. 

64.7% of residents in Laos are Buddhists, 1.7% are Christian, 2.2% of other religions, and 31.4% state they have “no religion”.


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