This landlocked, mountainous nation between Vietnam and Thailand gained its independence from France in 1954. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. The Communist Party is still in full political control despite economic liberalization. Dissent is suppressed, and freedoms are limited.
Communist persecution of Christians was especially harsh between 1975 and 1978. Restrictions eased afterward, but churches and Christians are still watched and targeted. Buddhism has regained much of its old influence, but is heavily syncretised with animism. Persecution tends to happen in cycles and is expressed on a local or regional level as much as on a national scale. In all cases, though, it can be intense and ruthless towards the Church. Missionaries are forbidden.
In early 2010, 48 Christians were forced from their homes in Katin village, Saravan province. Officials confiscated personal belongings and later destroyed six homes. When the Christians refused to renounce their faith, they were forced to walk six kilometers outside their village and were left by the side of the road. In December 2010, officials and residents of Katin destroyed rice paddies farmed by 11 Christian families previously living in the village. The destruction followed the expulsion of another seven. In January 2011, 11 Christians were arrested at gunpoint, and three house church leaders were charged for “holding a secret meeting,” a political offence punishable by law.
- Pray for strength and courage for Christians as they continue to face pressure and imprisonment for their faith.
- Pray for the government of Laos—that those in power will continue to improve policies and activities, recognizing the need for freedom for all their citizens.