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2014-06-26

ASIA/LAOS - False accusations of murder regarding five Christian leaders

Savannakhet (Agenzia Fides) - Five Christian leaders of the province of Savannakhet have been accused of murder and risk being held in prison for a long time. The allegations are completely false and instrumental and aim at "decapitating" the Christian communities of the province in order to prevent the spread of the Christian faith. As Fides learns, the five leaders are accused of killing a Christian woman, who died of natural death, who they had visited in the last hours of her life, to give her the comfort of faith and prayer. Mrs. Chan died on June 22 after two years of illness. The woman, a mother of eight children, had converted to Christianity in April. With a gesture that represents a blatant violation of religious freedom, the village chief prevented the funeral and burial of the woman. Instead, the village chief had her buried in the local cemetery following a Buddhist funeral, which her family was forced to attend (eight children, who had also converted) and other members of the village (where five families have embraced the Christian faith). Police also detained 5 local Christian leaders who wanted to attend the funeral.
As reported to Fides by the NGO "Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom" (Hrwlrf), Mrs. Kaithong, leader of the community in Saisomboon; Mr. Puphet, leader of the church in the village of Donpalai; Mr. Muk, the Christian leader of the village of Huey; Hasadee, who guides the faithful in the village of Bunthalay; and Mr. Tiang are all in prison.
"The authorities are looking for every possible pretext, in order to stop the spread of the Christian faith in the area", said a note sent to Fides by Hrwlrf. The NGO, demands the immediate release of the five innocent people and urges the Lao government to respect the right of all citizens to freedom of religion and to ensure legality and the rule of law. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/06/2014)

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