Laos: Christians attacked, driven from their home by villagers angered by their practice of a ‘foreign religion’

February 26, 2022

Here yet again we see indifference or worse from the authorities who ought to be protecting the Christians. We have also seen harassment by officials in Pakistan, China, India, and elsewhere. In this story we also see that in Laos, Christianity is often seen as an alien faith, as in China, India, and elsewhere.

For more coverage of the persecution of Christians in Laos, see here.

“Christians attacked, driven from their home in southern Laos,” Radio Free Asia, February 23, 2022:

Twelve members of a Christian family in southern Laos were attacked and driven from their home this month by villagers angered by the group’s practice of a “foreign religion,” family members and other sources said.

The attack was the latest in a string of similar assaults and legal moves against Christians in the one-party communist state with a mostly Buddhist population despite a national law protecting the free exercise of their faith.

The Feb. 9 attack in Savannakhet province’s Dong Savanh village in which the family home was burned down followed an earlier attack on the funeral of the family’s father, his widow Seng Aloun — now the family head — told RFA on Monday.

“My husband died on Dec. 4 last year, and we took his body to the village cemetery two days later, but the villagers wouldn’t allow us to bury him there. They struck his coffin with wooden sticks and hit my family members too,” she said.

“Later, we buried my husband’s body on Dec. 7 in our own rice field. But the villagers then burned down my home on Feb. 9 and seized our rice field the next day. They just want to get rid of us.”

The family had been evicted from their village once before in 2017, Seng Aloun said. “Village residents and local authorities don’t like us because we believe in Jesus Christ. They don’t want us here. They say they don’t like the religion of a foreign country.”

Police from Savannakhet’s Phalanxay district came on Tuesday to where the family now stays with relatives to ask about the burning of the family’s home and seizure of their field, but also told Seng Aloun to remove social media posts and videos she had posted describing the incident and the earlier attack on her husband’s funeral, she said.

A district official told RFA on Feb. 18 that Phalanxay authorities were aware of the incident and had set up a team to investigate. “But our initial information is that this is a personal conflict, not a religious one,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

“We are now looking for the person or persons who burned the family’s home, even if they are authorities in the village. Whoever did the burning will be punished according to the law,” he added.

‘They really don’t like us’

Other Christians living in Savannakhet voiced concern over the treatment of Seng Aroun and her family, noting that the Dong Savanh village chief had joined in the Dec. 6 attack on her husband’s funeral, leaving two family members injured.

“Where are the authorities? Where are the police?” the province resident asked. “They should be helping the family. The family is now living with relatives and want their land back so that they can work on it,” he said.

“They really don’t like us,” another local Christian added.

“For example, if we go to village authorities and ask them to sign a document, they turn their back on us and won’t do it. The police always side with village authorities and other villagers too, so we have nowhere else to turn for help,” he said….