ASIA/LAOS - Pressures on behalf of the authorities over a Christian woman to abjure faith

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Savannakhet (Agenzia Fides) - The head of the village of Saisomboon, in the province of Savannakhet, and a government official have warned a Christian woman named Varn to abjure faith, otherwise she will be expelled from the village and her land will be confiscated.
As learned by the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide" (CSW), Varn is the person who announced Christ to her friend Chan, a Christian woman who died in the village of Saisomboon after a long illness (see Fides 26/06/2014). After her death, the authorities accused five Christian leaders in Savannakhet province of murdering Ms. Chan, by giving her a drug that caused her death. As explained by the non-profit organization "Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom", this is a completely false accusation, as the five leaders of neighboring communities went to pay Chan a visit just to give her the comfort of prayers. The five were arrested on suspicion of murder: in this way the Christian communities of the area have been "decapitated".
Government officials also stopped the Christian funeral, authorizing only a Buddhist ritual.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of CSW, said in a note sent to Fides: "The right to freedom of religion includes the right to adopt a belief of one’s own choice: the pressure on Mrs. Varn is a violation of this right, protected by the international Covenant on civil and Political Rights, that Laos ratified in 2009. We ask the government to immediately look into abuses committed by the village chief and the police and the charges against the five Christian leaders detained". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 03/07/2014)