Christians in the communist state of Laos were arrested, tortured, and killed over the Christmas holiday in the latest sign of more repressive conditions for Christians worldwide.
As first noted by the Wall Street Journal, the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington has tracked the worsening environment for Laotian Christians of the Hmong ethnic minority. CPPA’s executive director says the Communist Party in Laos is working with Vietnamese authorities to stifle any religious worship not sanctioned by the state:
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"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."
"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.
The Christian watchdog group Open Doors said in its annual report, released this week, that global persecution of Christians increased last year, especially at the hands of Islamic extremists.