Laos, Thailand Hmong Crisis: LMHR Says More Laotian Christians Persecuted Following New Arrests
The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and policymakers in Washington, D.C. received the following international communique and news release from the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR) in Paris, France today, September 10th, 2008, regarding new arrests of Lao Christians by the Lao Peoples Democractic Republic (LPDR) regime.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C., September 10, 2008 - The Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ), non-governmental organizations ( NGOs ) and policymakers in Washington, D.C. received the following international communique and news release from the Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ) in Paris, France today, September 10th, 2008, regarding new arrests of Lao Christians by the Lao Peoples Democractic Republic ( LPDR ) regime.
"More reports are coming out of Laos on a daily basis regarding the increased persecution and arrest of both Lao and Hmong Christians and religious believers," stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. based Center for Public Policy Analysis. "The Lao Movement for Human Rights continues to raise these important human rights and religious freedom issues with the European Parliament but the LPDR regime continues to engage in widespread violations of the rights of its citizens, especially Lao and Hmong Christians who it is arresting, persecuting and killing."
The following is the statement and press release from the LMHR in Paris regarding increased religious persecution and religious freedom violations in Laos:
LAOS: New arrest of Christians; the repression goes on
Arrests of Christians are going on in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic ( LDPR ), where two persons, among whom a teacher, have been in detention since September 8th, 2008 in the province of Champassak ( South ), because of their Christian faith.
According to reliable informations received by the Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ), Mr KHAMBANE, a teacher in the village of Ban Koung, Phonthong district, province of Champassak, is in detention in a "re-education center" of Xandeng, located in the same province, together with another Christian, Mr PHOUN. The two persons were arrested by the LPDR authorities for having been converted to Christianity.
While being interogated, Mr KHAMBANE was informed by a local authorities of the régime that he had "violated the rules as a teacher in a government school for having contacts with Christians ( ... ) and for becoming Christian". He was also informed he would stay five days in the "Re-education center" and would be allowed back to his teaching function only if he renounced his Christian faith within this time; in the contrary, he would be handed to the authorities of Phonthong district for a longer incarceration.
The same source of information pointed out that Misters KHAMBANE and PHOUN are being held in deplorable conditions, along with hundred other prisoners jailed for drugs traffic or for other crimes.
These sad facts show, once more, that freedom of belief remains extremely limited in the LDPR and that religious minorities remain the target of arrests, threats and forced renunciations, despite public declarations made by the Lao leaders.
The Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ) expresses its deepest indignation and firmly condemns these new violations of the Lao people’s fundamental rights, contrary to the International Conventions signed by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and contrary to article 30 of the LPDR’s Constitution, which deals with “Religious Freedom” for all citizens.
The LMHR urges the LPDR leaders to put an end to all kinds of religious repression in the country, and to immediately and unconditionally release Mr KHAMBANE and Mr PHOUN, as well as every person detained for their opinion or their belief, among whom Pastor SOMPHONG and two other Christians, Mr BOUT and Mr KHAMSAVANH, all three, handcuffed and legs blocked in a wodden stock since August 3rd, 2008 in a prison of the province of Savannakhet ( South ).
The Lao Movement for Human Rights calls on the donating countries, especially the European Union and its 27 member States, the United Nations, the US, Japan, Australia, the ASEAN and the international financial institutions, to reconsider their relations with the LPDR, and to increase their pressure on this totalitarian regime, including through economic means, so that the freedom of belief and the basic rights of the Lao people are fully respected.
( end statement and international communique by LMHR from Paris, France, Sept. 10, 2008 ) ----
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