Date: January 3, 2019
Laos (International Christian Concern) – Seven Lao Christians arrested at the New Year weekend for conducting an “illegal” church service in celebration of Christmas have been released, according to a local official.
The police released the Christians arrested on December 29, 2018 at Nakanong Village and allowed them to go home.
“Yes, they were arrested, but today they’ve all gone home,” an official in the Phin district of the southern province of Savannakhet told Radio Free Asia’s Lao Service on Wednesday, though speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to discuss details of the arrests or comment further on the case.
While Christian services are allowed in some parts of Laos with state officials present to check for anti-government messaging, Christians living in remote areas of the country are frequently harassed and expelled from their homes by local officials.
RFA reported earlier that four Lao Christians were arrested last November in the Keovilai village of Savannakhet province’s Vilabouly district. They were held in custody for a week for conducting religious services without permission from authorities. Appeals to higher levels of authority in eventually led the central government district and village officials to free the detainees, but only after community members were questioned.
A local source told RFA that conflicts between Christians and local authorities often flare up because believers assert the right to freedom of worship guaranteed by the country’s constitution, while authorities call Christianity a foreign religion and say that Christians must move out of their villages.
HOW TO PRAY: Pray for local officials to respect the rights of Christians in Laos. Praise God for the release of these seven Christians. Pray for the release of any other believers affected by similar Christmas crackdowns.