By BosNewsLife News Center
VIENTIANE, LAOS (BosNewsLfe) -- Security forces and others have killed at least 13 Christians in Laos in recent weeks as part of a crackdown on Hmong villagers "falsely accused of stirring rebel dissent", a Christian news agency reported Tuesday, August 7.
The Christians were accused of joining separatist forces of General Vang Pao, Compass Direct News said, citing local sources. Authorities reportedly also arrested and imprisoned about 200 members of a 1,900-strong church in Ban Sai Jarern village, Bokeo province in northwestern Laos.
Among those killed last month was Neng Mua, a Christian who slipped back to his native Fay village after hiding in the mountains from the police round-up, Compass Direct News said.
On July 7 he apparently went to a local villagerâ€™s house to beg for food, but his one-time friend instead shot him dead as a suspected member of the â€œliberation army,â€ an unidentified Christian source told the agency.
Police have searched intensively for Christians in rice fields and mountains and are shooting them on sight, said the source, who requested anonymity. "Many Christians were killed and badly injured," he said. "Women and children were arrested and sent to prison.â€ There was no immediate reaction from Laotian authorities.
Local Christians, closely monitored by the government, are not allowed to use mobile phones, obtain food or leave the village without permission, a Christian source said. â€œAll these restrictions are imposed for suspicion that they will contact General Vang Pao and the other Christian escapees,â€ he was quoted as saying.
Christians are reportedly prohibited from worshipping together and fear that police will besiege their church. Area villages are under tight police control. Authorities are also pursuing Christian leaders who escaped and are following closely Christians who go to other villages, reports said.
Compass Direct News quoted Christians as saying there are about 50 refugees living near the border with Thailand who need food and water. They are "broken because their wives and children are in prison," the news agency quoted local Christians as saying.
It comes as churches grow in several areas of Laos, BosNewsLife established during a visit to the country. Across the Communist-run nation village chiefs and other workers have been pressured by Communist authorities to give up their Christian faith.
An underground evangelical church leader told BosNewsLife that he knew "of several incidents near the Vietnam border where Laos police raided villages and forced locals to stand for three days with their hands in the air till they renounced their faith in Christ. Nobody is able to keep up with that kind of torture for so long."
Some received prison terms and at least one man died while in detention, he said.
Human rights workers say the government regards church activities as questioning the communist system and threatens the government's power. (With reporting by BosNewsLife's Agnes R. Bos and Stefan J. Bos)
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