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Helping 10 Lao Christian Believers of Nonsawang Village to Return Back Home

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TO: Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom: Suzan Johnson COOK, Office of International Religious Freedom, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs , Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520. Telephone: 202-647-4000  

Ambassador: H.E. Mr. Alounkeo KITTIKHOUN, Permanent Mission of the Lao People's Democratic Republic to the United Nations, 317 East 51st Street, New York, NY 10022, United States of America. Telephone: (212) 832-2734, 832-0095, Fax: (212) 750-0039, Email:

Ambassador: H.E. Mr. Seng SOUKHATHIVONG, Embassy: 2222 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Telephone: (202) 332-6416, (202) 332-6416, 6417, Fax: (202) 332-4923, (202) 332-4923

Ambassador: Karen B. STEWART, 19 Rue Bartholonie, Vientiane Mailing address: B. P. 114, Vientiane; American Embassy, Box V, APO AP 96546. Telephone: [856] (21) 267000, 267089, 267160, Fax: [856] (21) 267190, 267160, Email:

Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva, 8-14 avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.  Telephone: [41] (22) 9179006, Fax: [41] (22) 9179006, E-mail:

Leonard A. Leo, Chair, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 800 N. Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 790, Washington, D.C. 20002, Phone: (202) 523-3240 (202) 523-3240, Fax: (202) 523-5020, Email:

On July 16, 2011, the chief (Khamsing) and the religious affairs official of Nonsawang village in Thapangthong district of Savannakhet province pursued Christian religious eradication policy in their village. After unsuccessful attempts to persuade the Nonsawang believers (consisting of three sub-families of one extended household--Mrs. Pin and Mr. Bountha [Pin’s husband]; Pin’s father and mother; and, Pin’s brother and his wife) to denounce their faith, the village chief took away their right to live in Nonsawang and then deported all 10 believers from the village. Being forced from their home due to their refusal to give up their Christian faith, the believers left the village with their personal belongings in total devastation, while their empty house is still left standing until today.

After being forced out and without a place to live, they then went to stay at their rice paddies, which is 3 kilometers away from the Nonsawang village common. They now have built a temporary shelter for themselves, made of sticks and grass, in order to survive, while trying to figure out what to do next. Their children have subsequently experienced sickness due to the resulting hardship.

Toward the end of August 2011, the authorities (consisting of Nonsawan village chief, district police and governing officials) have continued their aggression against the Nonsawang believers and again have attempted to kick them out from their temporary shelter (grass hut) at their rice paddies. The village chief claims that their rice paddies fall within the jurisdiction of the village administration. Since they now have believed in the Christian faith, the chief has made a verdict that they have lost their right to stay in the village and must also give up even their rice paddies. The village chief stated to their believers: "You can stay in our village if you first cease to believe in God; if not, you must leave with all your family." Nevertheless, the believers insisted in keeping their Christian faith because God has saved them and delivered from the power of evil.

Today, all three families still face hardships and are living at their rice paddy hut.  They have chosen to believe in the Christian faith and, as a consequence, must face deportation from their home as well as uncertain future. The three families consist of the following members: (1) Mr. Desorn , age 56; (2) Mrs. Sornpen (Desorn’s wife), age 50; (3) Mrs. Pin (Desorn’s daughter), age 25; (4) Mr. Bountha (Pin’s husband, also referred to as Mr. Bounchu), age 25; (5) Mr. Pai (Desorn's son), age 23; (6) Mrs. Toey (Pai's wife), age 22; (7) Mr. Teuy (Desorn's son), age 25; (8) Mr. Somjai (Desorn's son), age 18; (9) Miss. Boukham (Desorn's daughter), age 10; and (10) Yona (Pai's son), age 2.

We, the undersigned, urge the Government of Lao PDR, U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, American Embassy in Vientiane, and U.N. Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief to respect the freedom and practices of religion as guaranteed in the Lao Constitution and the Lao government-ratified U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to cease all acts of aggression against the Nonsawang Christians, and allow them to return to their home and exercise their FREEDOM to manifest their religion faith (individually or in community with others and in public or private) in worship, observance, practice and teaching.  Additionally, we urge the Lao government to adopt legislation in replacement of Decree 92 in order to avoid violating the Lao Constitution and the U.N. ICCPR.


Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) is a registered nonprofit organization in Tennessee and a 501(c)(3) federal tax exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Service. The specific purposes of HRWLRF are to: (a) advocate for human rights as it relates to freedom of religion and belief; (b) ensure freedom of religious beliefs and practices, including the ability to assemble for worship and propagate one's religious beliefs; (c) provide data and insights into the impact of religious repression and intolerance; and, (d) assist Lao persons affected by religious repression. Websites:


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