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Lao Officials: Give Up Your Faith or Face Eviction

DUBLIN, December 23 MPBS24/7(A CDN REPORT) – Nearly 50 Christians await their fate today after officials in Natoo village, southern Laos, on Wednesday (Dec. 21) summoned four of their leaders and warned that they would evict the entire church “within 24 hours” if they refused to give up their faith. Officials told the Christians they had forfeited their right to live in the village because of their faith, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) reported. The church in Natoo village, Palansai district of Savannakhet Province meets every week in the home of church leader Sompu. Immediately after the discussion with Natoo officials, Sompu reported the incident to sub-district police, but at press time district officials had not intervened, according to HRWLRF. Village officials have violated Lao law, the Constitution and international human rights standards by threatening eviction on the basis of religious belief, an HRWLRD spokesperson said. The Natoo eviction notice came less than a week after officials in Boukham village, just five kilometers away from Natoo, arrested eight church leaders for organizing a Christmas event attended by some 200 Christians. The arrests – and putting seven of the leaders in wooden stocks – came even though Christians had secured permission for the event. Two of the church leaders have since been released after paying steep fines, the first on Sunday (Dec. 18) and the second one this morning, according to a source who preferred to go unnamed. “We are at a critical juncture,” the HRWLRF spokesman told Compass. “Persecution is likely to spread without strong intervention from central government.”

Worldwide Christian Persecutions

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