LAOS: A TRIFECTA OF OPPRESSION, PERSECUTION AND CORRUPTION
One might imagine from tourist hype that Laos was a country of Buddhist smiles and/or progressive Communism rather than a major site of oppression, persecution and corruption in at any rate those zones outside the towns where local authorities are pretty much free to do what they like. As regards corruption, local freedom is a reason that out-of-control young Australian backpackers have gone “Tubing” at Vang Vieng with access to unlimited alcohol and drugs, jumping blind drunk into the river sometimes to the point of serious injury and even death.
However, while only a few weeks ago the government has finally intervened to save the reputation of this tourist spot, it isn’t intervening on matters as much and more serious that don’t affect the reputation of its tourism.
I emailed the Laos embassy late last year about an ugly incident in which local authorities, aided by a Buddhist monk, put Christians out of their village home because they sought to perform a Christian burial and even had some believers, one already seriously sick, in stocks for days to make them recant their Christian allegiance. Not receiving any acknowledgement I finally with some difficulty got through to an embassy staff member who listened to my complaint but didn’t say or email anything to the effect the complaint would be sent on. I doubt it would have been. Although the Christian community was divided and uprooted, those in the stocks were finally released after a week or so of inhuman suffering.
It is as well for the country’s reputation they did not die in the stocks. Laos is listed 12th worst persecutor of Christians in the world according to the latest Open Doors report, a watchdog organization on this kind of thing. Numbers of international organizations have noted the very bad conditions for freedom of religion and expression in Laos which is neighbor to a Vietnam scarcely better.
THE LAO EMBASSY DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR
Laos’s national reputation is not helped by more recent events [See Report/Article One below] about which I also rang the Australia’s Lao embassy after a non reply of over a month. The ruder response this time was just to put the phone down. I had rung to check on the complaint of August because of still more trouble within the last few days this time with some sick believers in chains rather than stocks. [Report/Article Two below].
Laos is a country that just doesn’t want to deal with its ugly evils which exist in denial of its stated principles which declare freedom of beliefs and worship. In practice the communists hate the Christians as alleged western subversives of their grip on power. At the same time a popular animist kind of Buddhism is tolerated because it is widespread, and long established in the nation. This is actually typical of many communist countries and also some Muslim ones. Theoretically freedom of belief is guaranteed but in practice all sorts of conditions and restrictions attach like one must be registered as a church by the government but you encounter a thousand red tape reasons you can’t register, or you can’t obtain the materials to build or repair a church, or no authorities will protect you if attacked…..or they won’t listen like the Lao embassy putting the phone down. It’s all lies and hypocrisy and what’s convenient pure and simple.
BUDDHISTS HYPOCRITCALLY SILENT AS USUAL
As usual, though tolerated by the government, the Buddhists in Laos do nothing or are even just part of the persecution itself as they have been in almost every country except Thailand that Christianity has ever entered. Historically their behavior in neighbouring Vietnam was a disgrace from the first. Buddhism is possibly the most whitewashed, self-congratulatory religion in the world when it comes to basic rights (though at present it may rival Islam in that respect). It doesn’t understand them or if it does it doesn’t usually act on their behalf. The case of Tibet where Buddhists are victims is a rare exception. As I wrote in The Great Circle [available Amazon], historically, and still today, Buddhism has blood on its hands where Christianity is concerned, but silly western converts to the religion and admirers just haven’t noticed. Governments like Vietnam’s, again more favourable to Buddhists than Christians, do nothing in the face of attacks upon the defenceless like the recent smashing into a Christian orphanage and leprosarium, cracking the skull of an elderly Christian woman etc, behaviour which should not be tolerated by any decent people. Responsible nations should be screaming. Instead we merely find….
A CHRISTIAN HILLARY CLINTON SYNDROME
Where the persecution of Christians is concerned, the West and naïve Christians devoted to interfaith enterprises on the whole don’t tend to notice the numerous wrongs and abuses on the ground. It’s too inconvenient. Hillary Clinton is a serious case in point and one shocking to the point of shameful. Excessively or just pragmatically impressed by changes in Myanmar/Burma, this so-called Methodist Christian engaged the idolatry of going to the main Buddhist shrine of Burma to pour water over a famous Buddha image’s head for luck. This while the persecution of large minorities, mainly but not exclusively Christian, go on apace despite all reforms with children being impressed into monasteries (with help of violent Buddhist monks) homes and churches being pillaged, women raped and men tortured by the armies of a de facto state Buddhism.
Clinton has of course been forced more recently into noting the persecution of an Islamic minority in Burma. Given Obama’s policies of appeasement and her close relations with her advisor Huma Abdil who has relatives in the Muslim Brotherhood, Clinton will always rush to the defence of Muslims. Praise is now heaped by America and Clinton upon Aung Sun Suu Kyi, but it remains to be seen how much if anything she can do or even wishes and intends to do for her country’s sizeable minorities. Suu Kyi’s nation founding father never had much time for them and it may be precisely because she is a “good” Buddhist that one fails to hear her strong condemnation of Buddhist atrocities in her country. But she is still a heroine, an icon to Clinton and feminists….after all she is a woman so that would cover a multitude of possible sins of omission!
The American government now gives away hundreds of millions to Muslim societies, some of this employed to the building and rebuilding of mosques while Christian minorities will receive nothing if and when, as happens throughout Asia from Muslim Pakistan to Buddhist Burma and Laos, their churches are torn down. Clinton who is married to an ex-President who has expressed admiration for Deepak Chopra’s concoction of New Age theosophies (How to Know God) and once considered Mormonism as a serious option, plainly has no real Christian identity or feelings despite all the Methodist associations.
It is seriously controversial Clinton even holds the political position she does. Common dignity would seem to have required she would retire after being so obviously undermined by Obama in the presidential race, but desiring power at all costs she made peace with the new administration, unacceptably compromising with (selling her soul?) for power and position just as she as good as apostatized to keep Burma happy. Hillary is a symbol of a deficient religious mindset and raises the question how much real Christian identity and feeling many so called Christians really have. Hillary Clinton herself is either so deluded or hypocritically opportunistic that though it was more pretext than cause of the riots she will profusely protest the insult to Muslims over a trashy amateur film that no one should be dying over and the absolute respect we must have for religious beliefs…..while she herself attends a Broadway show, The Book of Mormon, standing to applaud one of its hit songs ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai”. This means means “F- you God”. Clinton’s religious respect goes in one direction – that of her Muslim friends or Obama’s interests.
PERSECUTION AT ALL TIME HIGH
The Obama administration is a toothless tiger, blind and worthless when it comes to anything like the defence of Christians against what are record, all time high levels of persecution against churches in the third world – it’s worse than anything since the early centuries of the faith and overall Christians are the most persecuted body of people on earth who should accordingly have more not less attention from Christians and Americans at this time.
So full of merely convenient good will, so obsessed with diversity, multiculturalism, toleration and now appeasement of especially Muslims the American administration cannot find will or courage or honesty to speak against the most obvious wrongs and defend what is supposed to be any kind of spiritual home base first. Another Christian like Clinton not worth the name, was the eccentric and willful George Bush to whose administration many appeals were made on behalf of persecuted Christians in Iraq all of which were ignored. American Christians who influence too many Christians globally are in a state of such weakness, decadence or even like Clinton apostasy as in the Buddha veneration, they cannot support true justice but instead just follow American policies which never go much beyond pursuit of the economic main chance even when it is intervening supposedly to fund or protect.
PASTE: ARTICLE ONE
Laos: Five Christian leaders from same district arrested
Five Christian leaders were arrested as part of a crackdown on the Church in one Lao district.
On 11 September, three pastors, Bounlert of Alowmai church, Adang of Kengsainoy church and Onkaew of Kapang church, along with two other Christian leaders whose names have not been made public, were detained by police in Phin district, Savannakhet province.
The latter two were released on 13 September, but the other three have been held in harsh conditions, their hands and feet chained. Adang and Onkaew are seriously ill.
While the church pastors were locked up, police officers went to their congregations and questioned their wives and other leaders; they were asked about church finances, their own Christian faith and that of others, as well as details about the pastors’ work.
PASTE: ARTICLE TWO
Lao Christians threatened with violence and eviction unless they recant
Five Christian families have been threatened with violence and eviction from their Lao village if they do not recant their faith.
Tongkoun Keohavong, the leader of Nahoukou village church, in Utumpon district, Savannakhet province, was summoned to a meeting with the village authorities on 6 August. He was questioned about the growth of Christianity in Nahoukou and explained that since February over 30 villagers had put their faith in Christ and were gathering for weekly worship in homes.
The village chiefs ordered Tongkoun and the other Nahoukou Christians to renounce their faith and stop meeting together, but the church leader stood firm, saying:
God is real. When we believe, we are healed from sickness and immediately delivered from the possession of evil spirits. We cannot deny the reality of God’s power.
He was told that only “Lao religions” – Buddhism, Brahmanism and spirit worship – were allowed to be practised in the village. Christianity is considered a Western import in Communist Laos and as such is treated with great suspicion.
The following morning, all five families, comprising around 40 individuals, were summoned before village officials at a meeting attended by all of Nahoukou’s non-Christian residents.
The Christians were berated for their faith and ordered to recant or face eviction. They were told to stop gathering for worship and were threatened with physical violence if they refused to renounce Christ.
Similar threats made against a Christian community elsewhere in Laos have been carried out. Christian families were driven out of Katin village, Ta-Oyl district, Saravan Province, at gunpoint in 2010 and have since had their crops destroyed by the authorities.
Earlier this year, two groups of Christians from villages in Luangprabang province were threatened with expulsion if they refused to give up their faith.