Lao Authorities Issued Eviction Order to Forty-Seven Christians for Refusing to Give Up Their Faith

Natoo Village, Palansai District, Savannakhet Province, LAOS
Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF)
Advocacy Alert No. 11/2011
December 21, 2011

Around 9:00 AM on December 21, 2011 (today), four Christian family leaders were summoned by the Natoo village chief to the village government headquarters. In the meeting, the village authorities (consisting of the village chief, village religious affairs and village security forces) ordered all forty-seven Christians, including men, women and children, to give up their belief in Christ and to cease all Sunday worship meetings. The authorities ordered, “If you want to live in our village, you must cease all beliefs and practices in the Christian faith.” The authorities continued, “If you continue holding on to your faith, then you are forfeiting your right to live in our village and you must move out by tomorrow.” The Christian believers responded to the authorities with a question, “Who is giving this eviction order?” The village authorities replied, “We are the ones giving the order because we are the owners of this village.”

After the four Christians were let go from the meeting, one of the four, Mr. Sompu, who is the leader of the church, went to report the incident of the eviction order to the sub-district police.

Located approximately five kilometers from Boukham village (where eight Christian leaders were arrested by village authorities on December 16, 2011, during their Christmas gathering), Natoo village is located in Palansai district of Savannakhet province of Laos. Natoo village church was organized two years ago with Christians holding weekly worship services in Sompu’s house. The Natoo Christian community consists of 4 families (47 individuals). The heads of four Christian families are Sompu (church leader), Nalee, Sompan, and an unidentified person.

By taking away the residential right of Lao citizens 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 assemble 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 Natoo village and to immediately cancel all unjustifiable eviction orders 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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