Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
Agoon, the Lao Christian in an undated photo. RFA

Police have allegedly arrested, beaten and detained a man named Agoon in Savannakhet province in southern Laos for practicing his Christian faith, witnesses told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday.

Police say that Agoon was arrested for another crime, cutting timber illegally in a protected forest. But local sources say the man was unfairly targeted for his beliefs.


A source who declined to have his name published, told police that he and others cut down trees in the forest at the request of the village leader in the province’s Phin district. But sources say that officials rarely enforce the statutes against illegal logging.

Another source told RFA’s Lao Service in an interview that Agoon’s involvement in the timber-felling is merely an excuse—the other loggers in his group, all of whom are not Christians, were not arrested.


The latest case came to light a week after tree U.S. citizens were held for 10 days on suspicion of disseminating bibles and Christian material without government approval, before being deported to neighboring Thailand. Pixabay

The villager also said that according to the suspect, while in jail, the police tried to force him to renounce his faith, but he refused. The police responded by beating him harder, slapping his ears to the point that he became unable to hear.

RFA contacted a local security official for details, but the official declined to comment on the matter.

“He was detained for cutting timber illegally. Logging in the protected forest is illegal so [that is why] he has been detained,” said an official from the National Front Organization, which handles religious affairs in the communist nation.

“He has to pay a fine or serve jail time according to forest laws. [His arrest] has nothing to do with religion,” the official said.

A third source who requested anonymity agreed with the villager that charging him for cutting timber was an excuse, as an arrest for his beliefs would stroke the ire of international religious freedom organizations.

The latest case came to light a week after tree U.S. citizens were held for 10 days on suspicion of disseminating bibles and Christian material without government approval, before being deported to neighboring Thailand.

Conflicts between Laos’ small number of Christians and local authorities often flare up because believers assert the right to freedom of worship guaranteed by the country’s constitution, while authorities call Christianity a foreign religion in a traditionally Buddhist country, and say that Christians must move out of their villages.

In 2016, six Christians in Savannakhet’s Phalanxay district were arrested after local authorities entered their house and found that they were practicing the Christian faith.


Police have allegedly arrested, beaten and detained a man named Agoon in Savannakhet province in southern Laos for practicing his Christian faith, witnesses told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday. Pixabay

In 2014, local officials in the province’s Song Khone district arrested 11 Christians for building a temporary church without permission.

Also Read:Twitter Users in US More Likely to be Democrats: Study

In Phin district, seven Christians living in Na Kha Nong village, were arrested in 2015 for gathering people together for a prayer meeting.

The U.S. State Department said in a 2017 report that Lao local authorities often arrested or detained members of minority religions during the year, with a district-level official in Houaphan province expelling 26 Hmong Christians from their village, advising them they could return only if they renounced their faith. (RFA)


Popular

VOA

Surgeons attached a pig kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient so they could observe it for two days, and the kidney did what it was supposed to do.

Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.

Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences


Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)


Keep reading... Show less