ASIA/LAOS - To celebrate Easter, Christians occupy a requisitioned church

Monday, 2 April 2012

Savannakhet (Agenzia Fides) – It is an act of extreme and risky protest, because the faithful might soon be arrested: yesterday, April 1, Palm Sunday, a group of Laotian Christians in the village of Kengweng in the province of Savannakhet, removed the seals and occupied the village church which had been seized and closed by the police about a month ago. They came just to have a place where to pray and celebrate Easter.
As reported to Fides by the NGO "Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom" (HRWLRF), in this past year, in the province of Savannakhet three churches were seized and closed by local authorities: that of Kengweng, a building over 40 years old, seized in February 2012; the church of Nadaeng, closed in December 2011; that in the village of Dongpaiwan, requisitioned in September 2011.
The faithful of Kengweng, with Easter being just round the corner, felt a strong need to have a place of worship for the community: this is why they broke the padlocks on the church doors, entered and held a prayer meeting, recalling the 'entry of Christ in Jerusalem and the beginning of his Passion. At the same time, Christians in the village of Dongpaiwan gathered to worship outside the church building, sealed by the authorities. "Even if you risk being arrested and detained en masse, the Christians in Laos hoping to recover church properties belong to them," he told Fides Sirikoon Prasertsee, the Laotian Christian NGO "Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom." The faithful Laotian ask to celebrate the Passover of the Resurrection and to be allowed freedom of worship, which is guaranteed in the Constitution. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 02/04/2012)