LAOS: GOVERNMENT SWEEP CRIPPLES VILLAGE CHURCH
Many Christians, including leaders, still in prison following indiscriminate round-up.
LOS ANGELES, October 11 (Compass Direct News) – Following a brutal government sweep of suspected insurgents in July, a village church in Laos that once had nearly 2,000 members has shrunk to only a few dozen daring to attend. Most of its leaders are still either in prison or under house arrest. Christian sources said only about 20 to 30 members of the previously 1,900-member Laos Evangelical Church in Ban Sai Jarern village, Bokeo province in northwestern Laos, are still meeting after authorities three months ago arrested 200 Hmong Christians falsely accused of being separatist rebels. Many of those arrested, including women and children, are still in prison, Christian sources said, although estimates of the number detained were unavailable. At the church, most of those still meeting are women and children. “The men are either still in hiding for fear of being arrested, or are still imprisoned or under house arrest, and many are still fearful to come out of their homes to worship in church,” a source said. Ban Sai Jarern church members reported that no one from their congregation has had any contact or communication whatsoever with separatist rebels.