Still No Christmas in Laos
By Dan Wooding, ASSIST News Service On December 28, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- On Christmas Day, 2014, the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) has raised concern about the increased persecution of minority Christian, Animist and independent Buddhist believers in Laos at the hands of military and security forces of Laos and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Anguish on the face of a Hmong woman
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They say that religious freedom and human rights violations have dramatically increased under the Hanoi-backed, one-party communist government in Laos, especially against various Laotian and Hmong minority groups, including religious believers and political dissidents.
"Intensified religious freedom violations directed against ethnic Laotian and Hmong Christian believers are increasingly violent and egregious, with independent religious ceremonies and Christmas celebrations prohibited, or under attack, by the Lao military and security forces," said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C.
"In the latest crackdown, Lao and Hmong Christians, and Animist, believers have been arrested, tortured, killed , or have simply disappeared, on a systematic and more frequent basis, as the Marxist government of Laos, working in coordination with the Vietnam People's Army and authorities in Hanoi, continues its policy of attacking independent religious believers who wish to worship freely outside of state-controlled, and state-monitored, religious institutions."
Christians in Laos meet to listen
"Clearly, under these dark and grim conditions, there is still no Christmas in Laos for those who seek to celebrate and worship outside of the watchful eye of the military, secret police and communist authorities in Vientiane and Hanoi," Smith stated.
"It is also clear, and unfortunate, that the current Stalinist government in Laos is unwilling to cooperate on the many international appeals for the release of prominent political dissidents and prisoners, including Sombath Somphone, the Lao Students' Movement for Democracy protesters, and significant numbers of Hmong refugees," Smith concluded.
Earlier this month, the CPPA and a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) urged the United Nations to address ongoing serious human rights violations, as well as religious and press freedom violations, by the government of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR).
The NGOs also raised concern about the plight of a growing number of Lao and Hmong people who have disappeared at the hands of Lao military and security forces, including Sombath Somphone, Lao student protest leaders, Hmong refugees and others.
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