Lao Authorities Forbidding a Burial Ritual for a Lao Christian Woman Ad-Sapangthong District

Huey Village, Ad-Sapangthong District, Savannakhet Province
Advocacy Alert No. 12/2011
December 27, 2011

On Christmas Day, December 25 (2011), at approximately 12:00 noon, a Christian lady known by her first name Wang passed away in Huey village, Ad-sapangthong district of Savannakhet province, Laos. Her Christian husband known also by his first name San and other believers were preparing to bury her according to the Christian burial ritual. However, on December 26, Huey village authorities, consisting of village chief, village religious affairs, and village security forces, ordered them that no Christian burial ritual could be conducted for Wang in Huey village. Huey has eight extended families of Christians, consisting of over 40 believers. The Lao authorities told Christians that if they wanted a Christian burial, they must take the body to the city of Savannakhet and bury it there.

Under extreme pressures from the authorities and also in fear that the body would become rotten beyond handling, San reluctantly agreed to a Buddhist ritual as demanded by the authorities. However, when time has come to perform a Buddhist ritual, the ritual performer (Buddhist monk) refused to carry out a burial ritual for Wang because she is a professed Christian. Now her body is left decaying without being able to be buried.

Today (December 27), the Ad-Sapangthong district officials have summoned representatives of all eight Christian families to meet at the district headquarters. The future of Christians in Huey village is extremely bleak as Lao authorities continue to punish Christians for their religious beliefs.

By taking away the right for a proper burial on the basis of their religious beliefs, the village chief and the village authorities have violated the Lao administration law and Lao constitution. In addition, the Lao authorities have also violated the religious freedom of Lao citizens to hold and practice their religious faith.

The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to respect the Lao Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as ratified by the Lao government and to cease all acts of aggression against the Christian minority in Huey village and to immediately cancel all unjustifiable orders against Christians being burial in the village of their residence as well as any other orders that are in violation of Lao citizens’ religious freedom to believe and assemble in order to practice their Christian faith.

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