Published: 09:30 GMT Daylight Time - Wednesday 27 June 2012
Lao security force members dismissed for accepting Christ
Country/Region: South and East Asia, Lao, People's Democratic Republic
Two members of the Lao security force were discharged from their posts when they became Christians, as the church continues to grow despite Communist repression.
Khamsorn and Tonglai, who served as members of the security force in Alowmai village, Phin district, Savannakhet province, made the decision to accept Christ at the end of May. Their family members subsequently became Christians also.
The Communist government of Laos is deeply suspicious of Christianity
The chief of Alowmai village reported the matter to the sub-district police chief, who said that Khamsorn and Tonglai’s acceptance of the Christian faith did not disqualify them from serving in the country’s security force.
Dissatisfied with this, the village chief reported it to the Phin district military commander, who is in charge of all the village security forces in the district.
On 14 June, the commander discharged Khamsorn and Tonglai from active duty in the security force, confiscating their firearms.
Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom said:
Their dismissal from security service came as a consequence of their decision to accept the Christian faith. Although Khamsorn and Tonglai have faithfully served to protect the Lao nation and the people who reside in their village, they are now punished and dishonoured due to their religious affiliation.
Laos’ Communist authorities are deeply suspicious of Christianity, which they regard as a Western import and a threat to national unity, and therefore seek to suppress it.
The government interferes in church activities, and Christians suffer discrimination, threats, harassment and sometimes even imprisonment; in some areas they are threatened with expulsion from their villages, lose their livestock or land, or are denied access to education and medical care.
The population of Laos is only around three per cent but the churches are growing rapidly, despite all the difficulties they face.
One Lao Evangelical Church pastor oversees 2,000 people in 25 unofficial house churches, which have been growing by 10-15% per year.