Help 3 Lao Believers Detained in Savannakhet, Laos
TO: Ambassador: Phiane PHILAKONE Embassy: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Telephone: (202) 332-6416, 6417. FAX: (202) 332-4923 Ambassador: Ravic R. HUSO Embassy: 19 Rue Bartholonie, Vientiane Mailing address: B. P. 114, Vientiane; American Embassy, Box V, APO AP 96546. Telephone:  (21) 212581, 212582, 212585. FAX:  (21) 212584 U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva, 8-14 avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. Fax No.  22-917-9006 Sompong, pastor of the Boukham house church, along with Boot and Khamsavan remained in Ad-Sapangthong district police custardy since their arrest on August 3, 2008. All three were arrested by the district police authorities of Ad-Sapangthong district, Savannakhet of Laos, around 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at a Sunday morning worship gathering at Boukham village. They were charged with gathering to express their freedom of religion (worship) without approval, while the Lao constitution guarantees religious freedom. On August 24 (2008), family members of Sompong, Boot, and Khamsavan went to visit them at Ad-Sapangthong district police station. When the families arrived at the detainment cell, the officials began tightening handcuffs around the wrists as well as wooden stocks around the legs of all three prisoners: Sompong, Boot and Khamsavan. The family members expressed that the tightening of handcuffs and leg stocks so as to inflict pain in front of family members was for the purpose of punishment for not renouncing their Christian faith. As district police officials were tightening the handcuffs and leg stocks, they remarked these words to the three prisoners: \"This is the consequence of not signing documents to renounce your faith. We have already given you three opportunities to sign these documents but you have refused.\" On September 2 (2008), Boot\'s family members who visited him at the Ad-Sapangthong police detainment cell reported that Boot is suffering from infection resulting in severe pain and swollen legs/feet, thus de-capacitating his ability to walk. Bruises caused by the wooden stocks which the authorities have used to tie around his legs have caused the infection. Boot needs medical attention or else he will not be able to use his legs again. We, the undersigned, urge the Government of Lao PDR, the American Embassy in Vientiane and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to provide humanitarian assistance for Boot to obtain medical treatment immediately as well as to release all three detainees unconditionally.