March 29, 2012
Officials in a village in southern Laos on March 25 arrested and detained five Christians during worship and charged them with leading a religious movement without official approval, Compass Direct News reports. The five Christians from Palansai district were attending a worship service in a private home in the nearby village of Boukham in Ad-Sapangthong district, where they had previously attended many services without interference from authorities. Officials strongly oppose small groups meeting outside the umbrella of the government-approved Lao Evangelical Church (LEC), but many Christians prefer meeting as house churches because of strict controls over LEC activities. "This is typical of Laos now," a pastor from the capital, Vientiane, said. "In Vientiane we see things opening up a little. But the law is fluid. Things can change from day to day, and the situation is still very difficult in the provinces."