Lao Christians Reclaim Confiscated Church from Lao Authorities

Kwengweng Village and Dongpaiwan Village, Saybuli District, Savannakhet Province, LAOS
Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF)
Advocacy Alert No. 7/2012
April 1, 2012

Three Lao churches in Savannakhet province confiscated by Lao authorities, starting with the first one (DONGPAIWAN) being shutdown in September 2011:

(1) KENGWENG CHURCH (confiscated on February 22, 2012)
(2) NADAENG CHURCH (confiscated on December 4, 2011)
(3) DONGPAIWAN CHURCH (confiscated on September 22, 2011)

Since the confiscation, Lao authorities had padlocked doors of the churches. However, today KENGWENGCHURCH and DONGPAIWAN CHURCH began reclaiming their church back from the authorities, after the leaders of the Lao Evangelical Church (LEC) failed in their attempts to secure the church back from the authorities.

Approximately 8:00 AM this morning (April 1, 2012, local time), members of KENGWENG CHURCH gathered for worship services outside of the church building for the first time since the authorities confiscated the building. At the same time, Christians in Dongpaiwan village also assembled for worship outside of the church building for the first time since the confiscaton of the building, which is sealed by the authorities. Although they are risking being arrested and detained in mass, Lao Christians hope to reclaim their church properties that belong to them.

The HRWLRF urges the Lao government to use restraints and relinquish the holding on church properties that belong to Christians as well as to respect the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief in worship as guaranteed by the Lao constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as ratified by the Lao government.

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