Laos Christians charged with murder – death of convert

July 14, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Laos ChristiansLaos, July 01, 2014: Five Christians have been charged with murder in Laos after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity and later died.

Mrs Chan from Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province passed away on 21 June, having been unwell with an unknown condition for two years. In April, she approached the local church for prayer, and her health improved for a short time. She, along with her eight grown-up children, came to faith in Christ.

The sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial ceremony for their mother and gained permission for this from the Saisomboon village chief; they were going to bury her on their own property, as Christians are denied burial rights in the local cemetery.

The evening after Mrs Chan’s death, Christians came from nearby villages for her funeral, but it was prevented from going ahead. The village authorities backtracked on their original decision, saying the funeral could take place only if Mrs Chan’s sons and daughters signed an affidavit recanting their Christian faith, which they refused to do.

On 23 June, the Saisomboon church leader, Mrs Kaithong, appealed to the district chief, and the following day she was arrested along with three other area church leaders, Mr Puphet, Mr Muk and Mr Hasadee, and local believer Mr Tiang.

Their detention was initially over the burial dispute, but they were subsequently charged with Mrs Chan’s murder. The five were placed in handcuffs and wooden stocks.

Shortly after the arrests, the village chief led Buddhist monks and relatives of Mrs Chan into her house and conducted a Buddhist ceremony before her body was taken to the village cemetery.

A spokesman for Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) told Morning Star News:

I believe that authorities are trying to find every way they possibly can in order to stop the spread of Christian religious freedom in the area.

The Chans were the fifth family in Saisomboon to convert to Christianity. Other Christians in the village have encountered opposition because of their faith. On 20 May, three teenage girls, Noi (15), Net (15) and Nut (14) were disqualified from taking their final school exams because of their faith. The village chief said that in following Christianity, the students had forfeited their right to education.

– barnabas team

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