ASIA/LAOS - Christians arrested on charges of proselytizing

Monday, 7 September 2015

Vientiane (Agenzia Fides) - Two Christians were arrested by the police in the province of Khammouan, in the East of Laos, on charges of alleged proselytizing. The police broke into the house of a Christian in the village of Nong-hang, and arrested Bountheung Phetsomphone, 43, a Christian leader from another village, and Neuy, 40, who also lives in a nearby village.
As Fides learns by the NGO "Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom" (HRWLRF), Bountheung had gone to visit some Christian families in the village of Nong-hang and the faithful started to pray at home. Then the police broke into the house. Both Bountheung and Neuy, are married and have three children.
The District Police have been monitoring the growth of Christianity in the area since 2008. Informed of the arrival of Christian leader Bountheung, the agents launched the raid which, according to HRWLRF, "is totally illegal and unconstitutional".
Bountheung has already been under surveillance since 2012, when 300 people converted to Christianity, after listening to his experience and testimony. He had already been arrested in August 2012 and then released. Even Neuy had the same problems in the past, controlled by the police on suspicion that he wanted to spread the Christian faith.
The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to "respect the right of the people of Laos to religious freedom, guaranteed by the Constitution" and to stop the abuse of power by the police in the district. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/09/2015)