ASIA/LAOS - Six Christians arrested for "domestic prayer" released from prison

Monday, 6 October 2014

Savannakhet (Agenzia Fides) - Six of the seven Christians arrested in recent days by the police were released from the detention center in the village of Boukham, in the province of Savannakhet. The news was reported to Fides Agency by Sirikoon Prasertsee, director of the NGO Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (Hrwlrf). Pastor Sompong Supatto and six adult believers were arrested on September 28 for violation of an order of the village chief that forbids Christians to come together to pray at home. On October 3, the laity were released, while Pastor Sompong remains for now in custody.
According to Hrwlrf, the seven were simply exercising their right to religious freedom, meeting for a time of prayer at home. The police raided the house and arrested everyone. The week before, the village chief had issued a decree forbidding Christians to come together to pray.
In the same province of Savannakhet, five Christians remain in prison, accused in June of the murder of another Christian, even though the Prosecutor’s Office determined that they did not commit any crime.
A note of the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide" sent to Fides recalls that in the period 2012-2014 the province of Savannakhet holds the negative record for violations of the rights of Christians, who are subject to threats, evictions, arrests, disruption of meetings and religious services, forced participation in animist ceremonies. Hrwlrf asks the Lao government to ensure respect for religious freedom in all the provinces of the country. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 06/10/2014)