Laos

The Communist Party, which has ruled Laos since 1975, maintains close ties to Vietnam and China. The power and influence of neighbouring Vietnam, China and Burma have somewhat isolated Laos economically and geographically. This isolation has fostered a resurgence of abuses by communist authorities, who feel threatened by Protestant Christianity. The predominant religion is Theravada Buddhism, which coexists easily with the animistic spirit worship of the mountain tribes. Laos denies accusations of military abuses against the ethnic minority Hmong.

As one of the few remaining communist nations, Laos is a volatile area for Christians. Officially, the government permits the practice of four religions, including Christianity. In reality, however, Christians are harassed, evicted from their homes and forcibly relocated, denied education opportunities, arrested and forced to deny their faith. Churches are watched carefully by the government. The government's agency for carrying out religious policy has recently begun to engage with religious groups and international NGOs and has, on occasion, intervened in cases of detention and property confiscation.

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