Laos Army Targets Hmong Christian, Shaman Believers in Thailand
"Colonel Bounloune, a Laos Peoples Army officer, has been secretly posted to Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee detention center in Thailand with the support of Thai Third Army commanders, where he has overseen the forced closing of Lao Hmong Protestant Christian and Catholic house churches as well as Hmong animist shrines," said Philip Smith, of the CPPA.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C. and Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province - Thailand, May 6, 2009 - In Laos, the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic ( LPDR ) has stepped up persecution of independent Lao Christian, Catholic, Buddhist and animist believers according to the Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ), the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. the United League for Democracy in Laos, the Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) and others. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1090417.html
"It is obvious that, despite its cynical denials, the LPDR government has never been capable, or willing, to end its repression on religious freedom against religious minorities, especially the Christians," said Vanida S. Thephsouvanh, of the Lao Movement for Human Rights ( LMHR ) in Paris, France.
Vanida S. Thephsouvanh continued: "If some religious practices have been eased in some cities under the strict control of the Party-State, threats, intimidation, use of starvation, arrests, displacements and violence remain the authorities’ tools to force the Christians to renounce their faith. Violations of religious freedom were reported from North to South of the country these last months in the provinces of Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Luangprabang, Oudomxay, Bolikhamxay, Champassak, Saravane and Savannakhet."
"In March 2009, once more, the church in Ban None Somboun ( Bolikhamxay ) was destroyed by the authorities’ militia, depriving Christian families of their worship place for Easter. This action followed a campaign against Christians launched by the authorities in this province in 2008," Vanida S. Thephsouvanh concluded on behalf of the LMHR in Paris, France.
"Laos under the LPDR regime should be listed as a Country of Particular Concern ( CPC ) country again by the United States Commission on Religious Freedom since it is among the world's worst violators of religious freedom and it is increasing oppression and persecution of Buddhists, Protestant Christians," stated Bounthanh Rathigna, President of the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. of Virginia. "Lao and Hmong Catholics and Hmong Christians and animists, as well s many dissident Buddhists are suffering and dying under the LPDR regime's religous persecution, especially as a result of Vietnam's large-scale military and security force intervention and oppression of the Lao people, and their ruling Laos as a proxy regime, which they control and dominate in terms of policy, security and politically."
“There is some encouragement that the USCIRF report released on May 1, 2009, in Washington, D.C. officially, once again, puts Laos and the LPDR on a 'Watch List' as a result of the LPDR’s horrific religious persecution of the Laotian and Hmong people in Laos and its lack of transparency on religious freedom issues,” stated Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C.
“Many Laotian and Hmong refugees, including Lao Hmong Christians, have fled religious and political persecution in Laos to seek asylum in Thailand at Ban Huay Nam Khao, Petchabun Province and Nong Khai, Thailand as well as other places; Hundreds of Lao Hmong Christians and Catholics are at Ban Huay Nam Khao and Nong Khai in Thailand where the are faced with religious persecution as well as the prospect of forced repatriation back to Laos,” Smith observed.
Vaughn Vang, Director of the Hmong Lao Human Rights Council, Inc., stated: “The Lao and Hmong religious community in Ban Huay Nam Khao, Thailand, and its religious leaders are being targeted by the LPDR regime and Colonel Bounloune for persecution; the Lao Hmong religious believers are being attacked by him each day with threats, intimidation, and forced repatriation; he is taking away their families for torture, deportation, and he is overseeing and helping to direct the closing of the independent Hmong tradition animist and shaman shrines and house churches of Hmong Christians and Catholic believers; Colonel Bounloune is trying to destroy the faith and take away the hope and beliefs, of the Lao Hmong refugees in the refugee camp and replace it with a utopian Marxist belief in the LPDR regime and its leaders instead of traditional Hmong beliefs and any trust they may have in Jesus Christ and their churches and families and religious traditions.”
Philip Smith, of the CPPA, in Washington, D.C., further noted: “Colonel Bounloune, a Lao Peoples Army and LPDR intelligence service officer, has been secretly posted to Ban Huay Nam Khao refugee detention center in Thailand, in recent months, with the full support of Royal Thai Third Army commanders and officers of the Thai Ministry of Interior ( MOI ), where he has personally directed and overseen the forced closing of over one dozen Lao Hmong Protestant Christian and Catholic house churches as well as Hmong traditional animist shrines that the refugees had set up in the camp to worship, pray and conduct religious ceremonies.”
“Lao Hmong Christian leaders and house church lay leaders, as well as many Hmong shaman leaders, have been singled out and targeted for harassment, persecution and forced repatriation in Thailand, at Ban Huay Nam Khao camp, in Petchabun Province, and dozens have already been forced back to Laos in recent months where many have been persecuted, disappeared, imprisoned, of summarily executed by the LPDR military and security forces,” Smith continued.
Smith observed further: “Colonel Bounloune of the Lao military has placed a high priority on identifying, threatening and persecuting Lao and Hmong Protestant Christian and Catholic leaders and traditional animist shamans, along with their families, in the refugee camp at Ban Huay Nam Khao, in Thailand, and is singling them out of persecution and deportation to Laos; the LPDR regime seeks to close the Lao and Hmong churches and animist shrines in the camp and persecute and kill those religious leaders who oppose the LPDR’s policies, including freedom of religious belief and expression, and the right to freely assemble for religious services and ceremonies.”
The Lao Peoples Army and LPDR security forces have targeted Lao Hmong political and religious dissident groups hiding in the jungles and mountains of Laos with military attacks, mass starvation and ethnic cleansing operations, especially in Vientiane Province, Xieng Khouang Province, Luang Prabang, Khammoune Province. Thousands of unarmed Lao Hmong civilians, including women and children, have died in recent months at the hands of the Lao Army and LPDR regime, including hundreds of Christians and animists specifically targeted for their faith and independent religious practices, including membership in dissident independent churches and sects, or with independent animist shamans.
Lao Diaspora and independent Lao and Hmong human rights and dissident organizations in France, the United States, Thailand, and Laos have noted the recent report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom ( USCIRF ) which raises serious concerns about the LPDR’s record of religious persecution and lists it on watch list for monitoring its ongoing religious persecution of believers, especially Christians.
Laos is a one-party, authoritarian military regime closely allied with Burma and North Korea. During the Burmese crackdown and arrest of hundreds of Buddhist monks recent, the LPDR regime in Laos provided safe-haven and sanctuary to the families of Burmese generals and military officers responsible for the killing, arrest and disappearance of hundreds of Burmese Buddhist monks.
Smith stated further: “Laos has targeted for assassination key independent, dissident Buddhist worshippers in Thailand, including several Lao American citizens who have been gunned down and murdered in Thailand in recent years, including at Thai temples bordering Laos. The Lao government and LPDR security services closely monitor and control key temples in Laos, especially in Vientiane where some monks work as agents and informants for the LPDR security and intelligence services.”
On May 1, 2009, following up on the USCIRF’s report, the Lao Movement of Human Rights ( LMHR ) in Paris, France issued a major statement that was jointly recognized and cited by a coalition of non-governmental organizations ( NGO ) and human rights groups, including Laotian and Hmong non-profit and civic organizations. http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1090417.html
“The Lao and Hmong organizations are urging the USCIRF to list Laos as a Country of Particular Concern ( CPC ) along with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ( SRV ) which has intervened military, politically and with its security forces in recent years in Laos. High-level military intervention by Hanoi in Laos, and senior level defense ministry meetings and newly concluded agreements, are further evidence to many observers that Vietnam and the SRV again largely control and exploit Laos and the LPDR leadership and LPA as a proxy regime for its strategic, tactical and policy ambitions,” Smith concluded.
Contact: Jose Lopez firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Public Policy Analysis 2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Suite No. #212 Washington, D.C. 20009
This story was released on 2009-05-06. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for additional information.