Lao Christian Man Tied to A Post and Imprisoned for His Faith

Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF)
Advocacy Alert No. 03/2014
May 31, 2014

Around 8:00 AM on May 29, 2014 (2 days ago), 3 Nong district police officers, stationed in sub-district of Nathorn, and 5 village security officers arrested a Christian man, tied him to a post, and then detained him after he refused to give up his belief in the Christian faith. He is now being imprisoned in the Nong district prison. This incident took place at Loynam village in Nong district of Savannakhet province.

Over a year ago, Mr. Sort became a Christian believer through a witness of Christians in nearby sub-district. He, along with his family (a wife and 2 children), became the first family to embrace the Christian in the whole sub-district of Nathorn, which is consisted of approximately 20 villages under its jurisdiction.

On May 15, the police authorities led by Officer Bounnoy and the village security force led by the Loynam village chief, Mr. Somsee, went to the home of Mr. Sort, age 40, and ordered him to give up his Christian faith. The authorities threatened that he would be evicted from the village immediately if he disobeyed the order. All his property will be confiscated.  Sorted responded that he had embraced the Christian belief for over a year and that he would not recant of his faith. He further replied, “I’ve embraced the Christian faith over a year and I have not broken any law!”

After unsuccessful attempts to force Sort to recant, the village chief seized 4 million kips (US$ 500) of Sort’s money. Somsee told Sort, “If you don’t recant of the Christian faith, I will take your money permanently!” Even after numerous attempts by the authorities to coerce him to abandon his belief, Sort persisted in his Christian faith.

Then, around 8:00 AM on May 29, 2014, under the order of Somsee (village chief) and Bounnoy (district police), 3 Nong district police officers, stationed in sub-district of Nathorn, and 5 village security officers carried out their illegal action to eradicate totally the Christian faith from this sub-district.

The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to respect the right of the Lao people to religious freedom and the accompanying right to gather for corporate worship as guaranteed in the Lao constitution and the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Laos in 2009, upholding the individual’s right to adopt a religion/belief of choice as well as the right to manifest that religion/belief in a corporate worship (Article 18). Any form of coercion impairing the freedom to have and manifest one’s religion/belief of choice is condemned in the Covenant. Additionally the HRWLRF urges the Lao government to immediately release Mr. Sort from imprisonment in Nong district and punish the district and village authorities who acted illegally.

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