Buying back slaves misguided, PWRDF says

Published October 1, 1999

Buying back slaves to set them free is no answer to the problem in Sudan, says the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.

The Canadian Anglican relief and development agency is asking parishes throughout the country not to participate in “redemption programs” that aim to help enslaved Sudanese people.

Reports on the re-emergence of slavery in Sudan first appeared about 10 years ago, according to a news release from the Primate’s Fund.

“Since then, some well-intentioned organizations have attempted to purchase enslaved people in order to set them free. After considerable reflection, the PWRDF national committee has taken the position that this practice is not an appropriate solution.”

The statement sent to all parishes in the country says “participating in the buying of human beings contradicts our faith in the incarnation and belief that all persons are created in the image of God.”

It adds that there are practical as well as theological reasons to oppose the practice: “Research in the Sudan has shown that the slave redemption programs have raised the price of slaves, thereby aggravating the problem by creating another market for slaves. Indeed, one former slave redeemer has said: ‘We’ve made slavery more profitable than narcotics.'”

Estimates suggest the 16-year-old civil war in Sudan has claimed more than two million lives so far. The Primate’s Fund has been involved in the Sudan since 1971. It has supported a large number of programs along with the Sudan Council of Churches in the government-held areas of the country and the New Sudan Council of Churches in rebel-held areas.

The Primate’s Fund has prepared a Sudan Action Kit, which includes a number of background, theological and reflective articles to serve as a basis for reflection and action by parishes and the public.

The Primate’s Fund is urging Canadians to pray for the people of Sudan, to inform themselves on the situation and to write Canadian politicians asking for action on the slavery issue. It also asks for support for the Primate’s Fund through regular giving so that partners like the Sudanese councils of churches can continue their efforts against the revival of slavery.


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