about human rights in Laos

Linked with Vanida S. Thephsouvanh – Laos.

August 18, 2006 – Two Christian Leaders Arrested in Xepone. The Religious Repression is ongoing, by the Lao Movement for Human Rights.

According to reliable information received by the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), two Christian leaders were arrested in mid-August 2006 in the Xepone district, in the South of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR), for practicing their faith.

According to this information, Mr. A-KOUAM, 60 years old, and Mr. A-VIENG, 35 years old – in charge of the Christian community of the village of Ban Saveth, which counts one hundred believers from the Tri ethnic minority — were arrested on Friday 11 August 2006, a few days before Assumption Day. They are currently being held in the Xepone prison, in the Savannakhet province.

These same sources indicated that the purpose of the arrest and the imprisonment of these two Christian leaders by the provincial authorities was to “prevent the propagation of the Christian religion in the region, in particular with the ethnic minorities”.

These sad facts show that once again, the freedom of belief remains extremely limited within the LPDR in spite of the public claims made by the leaders of the regime, and that religious minorities remain the targets of acts of intimidations, harassment, threats, arrests, and often physical and moral violence.

The Lao Movement for Human Rights 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”.

The LMHR asks with insistence that the LPDR leaders, particularly new Prime Minister Mr. Bouasone BOUPHAVANH, to put an end to any kind of religious repression within the country, and to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. A-KOUAM and Mr. A-VIENG, as well as every prisoner detained because of their opinion or their religious belief.

The Lao Movement for Human Rights calls on the donating countries, especially the European Union and its State Members, 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.

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