Local District in Laos Threatens to Expel Christians
Civil Authorities Tell Christian Converts to Renounce Faith Despite Constitutional Protection of Religious Freedom
According to a report by Fides News Agency, Christians living in a local district of Laos have been told that must either renounce their faith or risk expulsion from their district. The measure was enacted amid growing concerns from civil authorities in the Ad-saphangthong district of the rise in Christian conversions in several villages.
Civil authorities announced the measure on September 21st at meeting that was attended by “people of all religions” in the village of Huay. Christians rejected the decision, saying that the religious freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution of Laos. They also expressed their resolve to suffer expulsion rather than renouncing their faith.
“Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF), a local non-governmental organization denounced the decision, saying that freedom of religion is often disregarded by civil servants.
The HRWLRF has called on the Laoitian government to enforce the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 16 of the covenant, which was ratified in Laos in 2009, assures the right “to adopt a freely chosen faith as well as the right to publicly manifest one’s religion.” It also condemns “any form of coercion of personal freedom, including the freedom of faith.
The non-governmental organization called for greater respect of the rights of the people of Laos and to put an end to the abuse of local civil authorities.