Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two Pastors Arrested, Christians Forced to Cease Meeting in Laos

7/26/11 Laos (CDN) — Authorities in a village in northern Laos have ordered all Christian residents to cease meeting for worship in private homes following the arrest of four Christians on July 10, rights advocates said.

Also on July 10, police arrested a Christian in Luang Prabang Province, ordering him to abandon his faith or face imprisonment, according to a statement from the advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF).

In Luang Namtha Province, Pastor Seng Aroun of Kon church in Namtha district, and three other Christians from Sounya village church identified only as Souchiad, Naikwang and Kofa had met at Kofa’s house for Sunday worship on July 10, HRWLRF reported. Kofa had also asked them for advice regarding a vehicle accident in May in which he had unwittingly caused the death of another person.

After the service, provincial authorities arrested all four men and detained them at Luang Namtha’s provincial prison. On July 13 they released all but Pastor Aroun, who remained in detention at press time, and ordered all Christians in Sounya village to cease meeting in private homes for worship, according to HRWLRF.

Christians in Sounya village have faced opposition from authorities since the initial conversion of some 400 residents in 2002. Since then police have conducted three waves of arrests of core church leaders. In 2009, two truckloads of police and military personnel tore down the Sounya church building, and authorities banned Christians from gathering for worship.

In 2010, the Christians began meeting occasionally in small groups. By January they were once again able to meet in private homes for Sunday worship, HRWLRF reported, but that limited freedom has now been removed(Source).

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