Laotian Christians evicted from village for refusing to renounce faith

(Photo: REUTERS / Kham)An ethnic Hmong woman attends a Eucharistic adoration ceremony at the Lao Chai church, near Sapa resort town, in Vietnam's northern Lao Cai province March 17, 2013. Eucharistic adoration is a Roman Catholic practice in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed to be adored by the faithful.

Six Hmong Christian families in Laos were recently driven from their homes in Borikhamxay province's Khamkeut district after refusing to renounce Christianity and revert to their ancestral faith.

Local authorities in the landlocked country did not accept the decision of the families to embrace Christianity and tried to persuade them to go back to animism, asianews reported.

Hmongs are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Various Hmong spiritual practices are a form of shamanism.

The Hmong make up about 8 percent of the 6.8 million people in Laos.

"After they converted to Christianity, the local authorities became unhappy and ordered them to revert back to animism, but they refused," an anonymous source told Radio Free Asia.

Witnesses say that two men from the Christian families were arrested in July and held for at least a month because of their faith.

A month later, the local authorities evicted the Christians and seized their homes.

They were moved to the village of Hoi Keo, also in Khamkeut District. The forced eviction cost the families to lose their homes, land, and source of living.

A 62-year-old patriarch of one of the families died shortly after arriving at Hoi Keo. His death was said to have been caused by the stress of leaving his ancestral home.

"[The Christian families] want to return to their homes because they are poor and don't have enough money to resettle in the new location," the source said. "They already had a home, land and a farm in their old village."

The governor of Khamkeut district claimed he is unaware of the incident. "We have not received any reports about this, but we will look into it and ask the local authorities," the governor told RFA.

Christians make up about 2 per cent of the 6 million population of Laos which is one of the world's poorest countries. The Christian minority has suffered persecution since Communism started in 1975.

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