Bangkok, Thailand - Again this year, many Christians in Laos are prohibited from celebrating Christmas, or are being arrested and imprisoned for seeking to practice their faith independent of government control.

Lao and Hmong Christians continue to be arrested, imprisoned and tortured in Laos by security forces and the army.

On December 21, authorities of Natoo village, Phalansay district, Savannakhet province threatened four leaders of a community of 47 Christians and "chased them from the village unless they renounced their faith''. This intimidation happened less than a week after authorities of Boukham village, Adsaphanthong district, Savannakhet province, arrested eight leaders of a community of 200 Christians for having organised Christmas celebrations, although a formal authorisation had already been obtained. The arrested persons are still in prison, their hands and legs blocked by wooden stocks.

On January 4, 2011 the police of Nakoon village, Hinboun district, Khammouane province arrested nine Christians for having celebrated Christmas without authorisation. To this day, Pastor Vanna and Pastor Yohan are imprisoned.

On March 28, 2011 four Christians of Phoukong village, Viengkham district, Luang Prabang province were arrested for "spreading foreign religion and evading Lao traditional religion''. In the same village on July 11 another Christian, Mr Vong Veu, was arrested for having chosen the Christian religion, and is still imprisoned.

On July 16, 10 Christians were forced by the authorities to leave their village in Nonsavang, Thapangthong district, Savannakhet province after they refused to renounce their religion. They took refuge in their rice fields, building a temporary bamboo shelter, but were chased away at the end of August, with the warning that they could return to the village only if they renounced their religion.

The Lao Movement for Human Rights firmly condemns these basic human rights violations that are contrary to the International Conventions ratified by the Lao People's Democratic Republic and contrary to the LPDR Constitution's provisions on religious freedom. The Lao Movement for Human Rights asks the Lao government to implement its international engagements related to the UN agreements on human rights with the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners detained for their faith or their opinion and in ending all forms of religious repression.