Local Authorities in Phin District of Savannakhet Force 31 Christian Families to Perform Spirit Occult Ritual

Kengsaiyai Village, Phin District, Savannakhet Province, Laos
Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF)
Advocacy Alert No. 19/2012
October 19, 2012

Today, October 19, 2012, Lao authorities, consisting of five Phin district police, head of Jutsume sub-district (Mr. Bounheung), Jutsume sub-district Community party secretary (Mr. Boungong), organized a meeting at Kengsaiyai village, where 18 Christian families (approx. 90 individuals) reside. Christian and non-Christian villagers and officials from 3-4 surrounding villages were also invited to the public meeting in Kengsaiyai.

Together, about 31 Christian families (approx. 155 individuals) and over 70 families of non-Christians were asked to perform spirit occult ritual of taking oath, stating that they would adhere to the traditional religion (spirit cult). The two main parts of the ritual include the act of drinking “sacred water” that has gone through spirit-ritual incantation and making oath to the spirits. Christians were required to sign documents as a proof that they have resubmitted themselves to the spirits through the ceremony and have renounced Christ.

Officials insisted that without performing the ritual, Christians would no longer have the right to stay in their villages. Thus far, Christians have refused to participate in the ritual, which they consider to be an act of rejection of their Christian faith and the returning to the former religion of spirit cult.

The HRWLRF calls on the Lao government to respect the right of the Christians in Phin district’s villages to religious freedom—to adhere to any religion of choice as guaranteed under the Lao constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by the Lao government—and to cease acts of forceful subjection of Christians to occult spirit ritual against their will. In addition, the HRWLRF calls upon the Lao government to punish Lao officials, including Mr. Bounheung and Mr. Boungong, for violating the law and Lao constitution and move to protect the right for Christians to reside in their villages and homes.

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