Seven Lao Christians Arrested in Christmas Church Service in Nakanong Village in Savannakhet Province, Laos

Nakanong Village, Phin District, Savannakhet Province, Laos
Advocacy Alert No. 02/2018
December 29, 2018

Approximately 6:00 PM on December 29, 2018, a company of nine police officers, led by police chief Somdee from Phin district, raided the Nakanong Village’s Christmas church service and arrested 3 church leaders, namely Mr. Akeo, Mr. Kert, and Mr. Somwang, while the believers were worshipping God. The three church leaders are being detained in the Phin district police headquarters. At 8:00 PM, the police authorities returned to the Nakanong church and arrested 4 more Christians: Mr. Boulai, Mr. Champee, Mr. Agàe, and Mr. Ayoung. They were last seen being handcuffed and led away to the Phin district police headquarters.

Around 10:00 PM, the police authorities (led by police chief Somdee) again returned to the Nakanong Church, demonlished the stage, cut off the power line, destroyed the sound system, and seized 3 mobile phones.

The police authorities are charging the arrested with illegal gathering for Christmas church service without permission.

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). Any form of coercion impairing the freedom to have and manifest one’s religion/belief of choice is condemned in the Covenant.

Additionally, the HRWLRF urges the Lao government to release immediately and unconditionally the seven Lao Christians and pay for the damages to the physical properties of the church.

(All seven prisoners have been released at 12:00 Noon on January 2, 2019.)

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