Government silence over 'disappeared' family
Rights group demands information on missing Christians
The Lao government appears to be ignoring a plea from a rights group for information on a Christian family “disappeared” for more than eight years.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) wrote an open letter last week “urgently requesting” information on the whereabouts of a man, named only as Boontheong, and his wife and son who have not been seen since July 3, 2004. The son was seven at the time.
The letter comes amid growing concern over the fate of activist and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner, Sombath Somphone, who disappeared in Laos last month.
Before their disappearance, Boontheong had been threatened and imprisoned by local police in Luang Namtha province because of his Christian faith.
CSW and other rights groups have tried over the years to establish the family’s whereabouts, but without success.
There has been no response from Vientiane to the letter, addressed to President Choummaly Sayasone.
“We have not heard from the Laotian government … neither have they acknowledged the letter,” a CSW spokesperson told ucanews.com. “Simply silence so far. We wait in hope!”
There have been improvements in religious freedom in Laos in recent years, CSW said in a statement. Fewer people are imprisoned for their faith and sentences are shorter.
“However, there are still significant restrictions on Christians as Christianity is often perceived as a ‘foreign’ religion.”
Christians are still subjected to harassment, eviction and imprisonment by local officials, the group said.
Calcutta archbishop remembers her life as one of sacrifice and love, strengthened by her faith
Mother of five accused of blasphemy could have her death sentence overturned in October
Indonesisn dry season wild fires have combined with poor environmental policies to create a major problem
Controversial plan to revamp Colombo port will destroy the environment and people’s homes and livelihoods
Seminaries in China are receiving a tough review but there is something more sinister at work