Tabong Village, Sa Mouay District, Salavan Province, LAO PDR | Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) | Advocacy Alert No. 01/2023 | September 14, 2023
On September 3, 2023 (local time), the Tabong village chief, village governing authorities, and village security authorities dismantled and destroyed the house belonged to a Lao Christian family in Tabong village; then, the authorities placed the Lao Christian family in arbitrary detention at the police station due to their insistence on exercising their right to freedom to believe in the Christian religion. The three children, students, are barred from attending school. The family has no home to which to return, and they face starvation risk.
The Lao Christian family consists of the following seven members:
- Umvang, male, age 46, head of family
- Ter, female, age 27, wife
- Vuang, male, age 30, brother
- Alin, male, age 10, son, student
- Soulin, male, age 7, son, student
- Rebecca, female, age 3, daughter
- Veoy, male, age 10, son, student
The Lao Constitution recognizes the RIGHT and FREEDOM of the Lao citizens “to believe or not to believe in religions (Article 30). The U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18) of which Lao PDR is a signatory party also recognizes the RIGHT of every Lao citizen to FREEDOM of religion and stipulates that the FREEDOM to manifest (individually or in community with others and in public or private) one’s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching cannot be impaired by any act, process or power of coercing (achieving by force or threat).
In addition, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the government of Lao PDR in 1991, requires the government of Lao PDR to ensure respect and protection of the rights of the Lao children. By the acts of aggression in Tabong village, the village authorities have violated Articles 2, 14, 16, 19, 28, and 37 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
While the Lao government recognizes the RIGHT of the Lao national to freedom of religion or belief, they restrict FREEDOM to that religious RIGHT and punish the Lao family who insist on exercising their right to religious freedom to believe in the Christian religion.
The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to respect the Lao Constitution and the government-
ratified U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and ensure the following actions:
(1) To cease all acts of aggression against Mr. Umvang and his family,
(2) To immediately release them from arbitrary detention,
(3) To allow Mr. Umvang’s three children to return to school,
(4) To rebuild their house that was destroyed by the village authorities,
(5) To compensate for their loss of property and personal damage,
(6) To punish the village authorities responsible for the unlawful acts of aggression against them,
(7) To guarantee protection for them against all physical and psychological threats, and,
(8) To respect, protect, and promote their freedom of religion or belief.
Additionally, the HRWLRF is calling upon the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to hold the government of Lao PDR accountable for their unlawful aggressions and their violation of Article 18 of the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to urge the government of Lao PDR to fulfill the eight actions above.
Picture Above: Tabong Village, Salavan Province, Laos: Umvang’s house being dismantled and destroyed by village authorities on September 3, 2023