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Laos: Christmas time Persecution in Luang Prabang
22 December 2016
Seven families were thrown out of their homes and two men were forced by the police to recant their faith in Jesus this Christmastime in one of Laos' Buddhist strongholds, Luang Prabang. One of the men, Tshaiv*, was also beaten by his father and relatives because they wanted to celebrate Christmas.
On December 2, Lao National Day, authorities came to a village in Luang Prabang and called all Christians for a meeting. There were seven families there who are Christian. The police then asked these families for their family documents** (land title, family book, & village identification cards), and asked them to leave, as "they may further create problems in the community due to their Christian beliefs."
The Christians pleaded from the authorities not to take their family documents from them and not to make them leave their village since they have nowhere to go, but the authorities stuck to their decision. The police told them to move out, mocking them saying: "If you have nowhere to go, go out and live with Christ!"
"The police also told these families to deny Jesus and stop believing in Him since they don't like Christ to be these families' God," an Open Doors worker who visited Luang Prabang says. "They hate Jesus and they don't want Jesus' name to be known in the village."
"Right now, these families are still looking for a new village to move in," the worker continues. "They were given a document from the village chief stating that they are not welcome in the village because they are Christians."
Two men told by governor to deny Jesus
In another village, the governor of one district released an order that two Hmong men in their twenties - Min Ko* and Tshaiv*, shall report to the Office of the Governor of the district. They were ordered by the Governor to deny Christ as their God.
Prior to them being invited by the authorities to the governor's office, Min Ko and Tshaiv have also had possessions taken away from them because of their faith in Christ. One day, during the harvest season, the government authorities came to their rice fields and took sacks of rice from them upon hearing that they are believers. The authorities then warned them to deny Christ, but they didn't waiver in their faith. Instead, they continued on worshipping the Lord.
Beaten by family for wanting to celebrate Christmas
Early this December, Tshaiv was beaten by his own family because he wanted to celebrate Christmas with believers in his home church. His father would not allow him to go but tied him up instead. With Tshaiv's hands tied on his back, his father called his neighbours, cousins, and whoever wanted to beat him, and they threw punches at him for as long and as violently as they could.
Though persecuted by their families and communities, Min Ko and Tshaiv have remained steadfast in their Christian faith.
Last week, the village chief, district police and people with authorities came to see Min Ko and Tshaiv again in their respective houses asking them if they have land titles, family books, and identification cards. They showed the documents thinking that the authorities would only take a look at them, instead the authorities took everything with them.
Until now, December 22, the documents are still with the authorities. On December 19, Min Ko went to a church leader from another district to borrow money to refill gas for his motorbike as he will be traveling to seek help and advice from the registered church in Laos.
*Names changed and exact villages hidden for the protection of the believers
** Family books and village identification cards are very important in Laos as these are one of the materials to identify whether a certain person is Lao or not, if he has a respectable reputation in the community, or if he is accepted by the village he is in.
- For encouragement and comfort for the seven families who were thrown out, as well as for Min Ko and Tshaiv.
- That the believers will have their family documents returned and that they may be able to find new villages to move into.
- That the Lord would change the hearts of the authorities and communities who persecuted them.
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