Pastor jailed in Laos for over one year released
The Christian Post reports that a Christian pastor imprisoned in Laos for refusing to halt worship has been freed after over one year in detention. Sources told Radio Free Asia that 35-year-old Pastor Sithon Thippavong in Savannaket’s Xonnaboury district was released last Friday, three days after the Provincial People’s Court convicted him on charges of “disrupting unity” and “creating disorder.”
“He was sentenced to one year in jail and fined a total of 4 million kip [about $426], with 2 million kip paid for each charge,” an official from the provincial prosecutor’s office was quoted as saying under the condition of anonymity. “He has already served a little more than one year in jail, so he has been released.”
Sithon, who has pastored in the Xonnaboury district since 2011, was arrested in March 2020 for organising religious services without permission from government authorities.
The pastor’s detention drew condemnation from international human rights organizations. An official from Human Rights Watch called his detention a “serious human rights violation.”
The United States-based International Christian Concern reports that even though Laos passed a law in 2019 to allow Christians to worship freely, many churches still face harassment and discrimination.