» 02/25/2011, 00.00
Food denied to 65 Laotian farmers to force them to renounce Christianity
Government officials seized the homes and land of 18 families, herded into a temporary camp without food. Neighbours are prevented from giving them food. For the Communist regime, they must abjure their faith in Christ. Pro-human rights activist calls on the government to uphold the constitution.
Vientiane (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Laotian authorities have driven 65 Christian farmers from their village because they refused to abjure their faith. Herded into a temporary camp, they risk starvation because local officials have destroyed their crops and have prevented food from reaching the group. Local sources say the government plans to starve them “until the give up their Christian faith.”
Eighteen farming families are currently being held at a camp outside Katin village, Ta-Oi District, in the southern province of Salavan. The Christians were driven out in two separate incidents last year. First, a group of 11 were forced out in January 2010, and then another seven were removed in December.
Christian sources in Laos, cited by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said that village officials are refusing to allow the Christians to enter the village to farm their land. An area that had been farmed around the camp has been destroyed. They also instructed local families in surrounding villages not to help or provide food to the group. Locals believe these measures are an attempt to starve the Christian families into giving up their Christian faith.
Despite appeals by the international community, the situation does not appear to be improving. In fact, one man has already died after being driven from his village.
CSW’s National Director Stuart Windsor said, “CSW calls upon the Lao government to adhere to the constitutional protection afforded to all its citizens by allowing the Katin villagers to return to their homes.”
Most people in Communist-ruled Laos are Buddhist (67 per cent). Out of a population of some six million, 0.7 per cent is Catholic.
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