Laotian Students Denied Education Because They Are Christians
May 29, 2014
Because their faith is considered foreign and even detrimental to Laotian society, Christians meet for prayer and Bible study in private homes.
Education holds the key to a brighter future for children who come from impoverished farming villages in Laos. Three high school students were recently denied that right, however, because they are followers of Jesus Christ.
On May 20 the chief of Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province prohibited the female students from taking their final examinations at Liansai village school.
“The village chief cited that due to their belief in the Christian faith, the three students have thus forfeited their right to education,” according to a report from Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF). The report stated one student is 14 years old. The other two girls are age 15.
The case has been appealed to the Atsaphangthong district education chief, who has spoken with the director of the Liansai village school regarding this issue.
The school director and the Saisomboon village chief are expected to reach a decision soon on whether or not to continue disqualifying the Christian students from taking final exams on the basis of their religious beliefs.
Police raid worship service
In the nearby village of Donpalai, six Atsaphangthong district police officers and two sub-district officers raided a Sunday morning church service on May 25. Police “forcibly snatched and confiscated” 53 Bibles from the 80 believers gathered for worship at the pastor’s house, reported HRWLRF.
While holding the confiscated Bibles in their hands, the police shouted at the worshipers, “These are bad books!” the advocacy group stated.
The police accused the pastor of illegally transporting worshipers to his house for a religious assembly. In response, the pastor explained that the worshipers came of their own free will.
The HRWLRF advocacy alert went on to say:
“Not long after, the village chief of Donpalai arrived on the scene and verified that the Christians have regularly gathered for weekly worship services in [the pastor’s] house for a long time. The police then decided to leave the scene with the confiscated Bibles. The village chief asked the Christians not to be upset with him because he was not aware of the police raid.”
HRWLRF is urging the Lao government to respect the rights of its people to religious freedom and the right to assemble for corporate worship, as guaranteed in the Lao constitution and the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that was ratified by Laos in 2009.
The organization also urges Lao’s government to recognize the right to an education for the three Christian students in Saisomboon village and to not discriminate against them because of their religion.
Christian Aid Mission assists ministries in Laos that are planting churches and providing for the basic living needs of persecuted families, some of whom are evicted from their communities due to their faith in Christ.