Officials in late December forced Christians in a Lao village to give up their faith in order to bury a family member in the village graveyard.
In Huey, Ad-Sapangthong district of Savannakhet Province, the village’s eight Christian families quickly began to arrange a funeral for a woman called Wang who died on Christmas Day. On December 26, however, village officials ordered that her body be buried according to Buddhist funeral rites or be taken to a burial ground in Savannakhet city. Lacking the resources for a city burial, the 40 Christians reluctantly agreed. But the village monk then refused to carry out the ceremony because Wang was a Christian. With Wang’s body already decomposing and officials demanding that they recant, the Christians verbally agreed to cease practising their faith in order to bury her in the village cemetery. Once the funeral was over, five of the families told church leaders in another city that they regretted their decision and that they would continue to worship God.