International Christian Concern | October 19, 2020
For over three months, four Lao Christians have been jailed in the country’s Khammouane province for planning a Christian funeral that is contrary to the local customs.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), on July 3, the four Christians travelled to Khammouane’s Phousath village to attend a funeral that was deemed by village authorities to have violated Lao customs and “divided community solidarity.” As a result, they were arrested before they could conduct the Christian ceremonies, said a Phousath village official.
The local villagers wanted to perform ceremonies for the deceased Christian “according to our culture handed down to us by our ancestors,” the official continued, “When someone dies, we help by making donations, sharing food, and asking [Buddhist] monks to come and pray at the home.”
“But [the Christians] wanted to do things that violate our traditional customs. They were preparing things that we felt were strange and wrong and do not understand, and so we acted in order to prevent them from happening,” he said.
While no trial has been held to prosecute these four Christians who are from different villages, the police investigation has been completed and no decision was made as to what happens to them next. Their wives and children are facing hardships due to the loss of income and uncertainty about the four men’s fate.
An official in the religious affairs department of the Lao central government told RFA on Oct. 12 that his department will now work with the Lao Front for National Construction and the Evangelical Church of Laos to win justice for the four imprisoned villagers.