Official Use of Weapons and Starvation to Force Katin Village Christians to Renounce Christian Faith

Katin viilage, Ta‐Oyl District, Saravan Province
Advocacy Alert No. 01/2010
February 4, 2010

Although Laos has Laos finally ratified the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights so as to announce to the whole world that it fully respects human rights and religious freedom, its continual efforts, however, to eradicate Christianity in Katin village of Ta‐Oyl district, Saravan province of Laos, tells the underneath reality. The officials’ continual cruel treatments of Lao Christians in Katin village on the basis of their religious convictions, resulting in the violations of religious freedom, have continued beyond the confiscation and slaughtering of pigs belonging to each of the nine Christian families on July 5, 2009, and the withdraw of protection for Christian villagers on July 11, 2009. In the midst of official religious hostility, more households were added to the Christian community in Katin village, resulting in 11 Christian households.

On January 10, 2010, around 10:00 a.m., approximately 100 people, consisting of villagers and Lao authorities/officials, including the village chief, religious affairs’ official, 3 district police, around 15‐men volunteer force and 15 village police, seized the Sunday morning worship service of Katin viilage. With guns to the believers’ heads, these officials forced all 48 Christian adults and children out of their place of worship to an open field in the village. Afterward, the officials confiscated all personal belongings of the Christians from 11 Christian houses and the belongings on the ground in an open field. They also confiscated a pig belonged to one of the believers. Later on, the officials completely destroyed 6 of the 11 homes of the believers. Unable to persuade the Christians to renounce Christ, the officials put guns to the believers’s heads and forced all 48 believers (adults and children) to walk 6 kilometers from their homes and then left them on the side of the road. While being forced with guns to their heads, the believers only took personal belongings they could grab.

Since that day (January 10), the officials setup village police at the entrance of Katin village in order to keep out the believers. Unable to return to their home village, all 48 believers, including women and children, have been sleeping on the grounds in the woods with hardly food supplies, equipment, or tools to survive. They are without light, food and clean water, except for a small stream nearby.

Around January 18, the Saravan provincial religious affairs’ official, Mr. Khampuey, and the Ta‐Oyl district official, Mr. Bounma, showed up at the place where believers had been forced to stay. Both officials tried to persuade the believers to renounce their Christian faith, saying, “Why do you believe in it [Bible]? It’s just a book.” However, the believers responded, “No, it’s not just a book; it’s a gift from God.” The officials continued, “The poor villagers have gotten some assistance from the government because they do not believe in the Christian faith. But you believe in the Christian faith and are you receiving any help?” The believers responded, “Even if God does give us anything, it’s okay; we still believe in the Bible because we have received a new life from God. Before, we were under the power of the spirits and had to sacrifice to them; and now, having believed in God, we no longer have to do any sacrifice.” The officials made further remarks:

See what happens to you because of your belief! You are now left in the middle of nowhere without any home, food, or help. You should deny your Christian belief and then you will be allowed back in your village. All 56 villages in Ta‐Oyl district do not want you to believe in the Christian faith. These villages have said that they can accept lepers and demon possessed persons living among them, but they cannot allow believers residing among them. If they do not want you, neither do we.

Unable to persuade the believers to renounce Christ, the two officials prohibited them from returning to their home village, even to get their personal belongings and essentials tools to protect themselves or to make a living.

The Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) is calling on international authorities, agencies, and organizations on human rights and religious freedom to hold the Lao government accountable for these inhumane acts that violate the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights which was ratified by the Lao government in 2009. These tactics of starvation and destruction of personal properties as well as the use of force employed by the Lao officials in order to put pressure on the Katin believers to renounce their religious convictions should be condemned.

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