the friend online
09 February 2007

Make them legal, make them free - preview

Alan Sealy calls for an amnesty in 2007

Slavery was declared illegal in England, Wales and Ireland in 1772 and in Scotland in 1773, but this year is the bicentenary of the passing of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill, which abolished the slave trade from the Empire
  • This was just a step in the process of its abolition throughout the British Empire
  • Slavery was not finally abolished in Sierra Leone until 1928

  • British Quakers had been in the forefront of the battle and in 1783, Meetings for Sufferings, having received a request from Philadelphia Quakers, established the first abolitionist organisation – the Committee on the Slave Trade
  • Four years later, William Wilberforce, at the suggestion of the prime minister William Pitt, started the parliamentary campaign for the abolition of the slave trade and set up the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
  • This committee gathered evidence of the horrors of the trade, set up groups of activists and commenced a campaign of mass petitioning which achieved a somewhat partial success in the passing of that Bill
  • This year, there will be many events celebrating that 'landmark' Bill
  • However, perhaps, rather than looking back somewhat smugly, on what was achieved 200 years ago, or breast-beating and apologising for the vast fortunes made at the expense of the suffering slave, we might show some real penitence and do something for the lot of the modern slave in Britain

  • Alan Sealy

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    Alick Munro, 09 February
    Well said! When I wrote on this issue to the Home Office a few months ago the reply came that if it were known that we had an open door policy for economic migrants we would be swamped. We cannot accommodate more than a limited number of new citizens with limited skills and limited command of English.
    So our Quaker humanitarianism might best be directed to the following:-
    - helping economic migrants learn English and other skills needed for skilled work or to start businesses, and providing them with life support while they do so
    - putting pressure on government to accept responsibility for the welfare of economic migrants, define categories of work that are to be reserved for them, liberalise its policies on assessing their suitability to remain
    - at an international level - working with other agencies to put pressure on the governments of the countries where economic migrants come from to provide stable fair government supportive of its citizens so that they do not need to come in the first place.
    Alick Munro Kingston and wandsworth MM


    This week's .pdf
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    International Edition: Supporting HIV Counselling in Kenya
    William West, Hardshaw East Monthly Meeting
    News round-up
    Meeting for Sufferings round-up
    Prometheus awakes?
    Stephen Cox, Westminster Monthly Meeting
    Judy Kirby & Metford Robson
    Preparing hearts & minds
    Lee Taylor
    An authority on early Quakers
    Ben Pink Dandelion
    Make them legal, make them free
    Alan Sealy
    Meeting for Sufferings is turning
    Anthony Gimpel, Leicester MM
    Country of the Week: Latvia


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