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PRAYER ALERT: Sudan

December 20, 2010

Sudan Referendum, January 9, 2011:
“Pray for Peace and Reconciliation of Sudan”


(SOURCES: BBC Online,
The Australian News, All Voices, World Evangelical Association, Faith Today, Christianity Today)

In Canada we understand the emotionally deep and lasting impact a separation referendum has on a country. Sudan is a country buried deep in 50 long years of civil tensions over religion, resources and ideology. It has experienced an even greater cost than Canada has ever known – through war and the loss of precious life – as it moves toward its referendum.

In 2005 a peace agreement between the government in Khartoum and the Southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement was signed. It ended the war, established semi-autonomy in the South and called for the referendum on independence, which is scheduled to take place on January 9, 2011. Senior northern officials have publicly acknowledged that South Sudan - where most people follow traditional beliefs and Christianity - are almost certain to choose to separate in the referendum.

President Omar al-Bashir said that should the South separate, the North of Sudan will reinforce its Islamic laws.

"If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution. Sharia and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language", President al-Bashir said.

While many seem confident that separation of the South will be the outcome of the January referendum, the hope for a peaceful acceptance by all parties seems much less probable.

The imposition of Sharia on the non-Muslim south was one of the reasons for the long civil war, which ended with the signing of the peace agreement in 2005. Many are uneasy about what the constitutional changes in the North would mean to the already existing tensions between the North and South, and to the safety of Christians, particularly those living in the North.

Many Northern Christian believers, having grown up as Muslims, are already subject to social consequences as a result of choosing to follow Jesus Christ. Vulnerable to persecution by family and society in general, the government in the North provides no protection for them. The potential of the new Sharia Law in the North, brings heightened and unsettling concern for the intensified persecution of Christians.

Also, if separation is ratified, it is expected that a large number of Southerners living in the North would return to the south, creating a huge economic challenge for the South. The choice to leave the North would likely require giving up homes and possessions to return to the South as refugees, likely living in camp conditions. The South is the least developed part of the country, having minimal infrastructure (including healthcare, education, or other social services). This sudden boom in population would put significant stress on their resources. International aid would likely be required.

Keeping an eye on the state of affairs in Sudan, the Canadian Government has been watching developments with keen interest in anticipation of what might be required on its behalf. On December 15, 2010 the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development presented a report to the House of Commons entitled The Referendum on Sudan: Where to after 2011? (Not yet available publically) . This report is a study of the implications and potential ramifications of the upcoming vote as a the result of study done by the Committee in 2009. The testimonies from the 2009 committee meetings offer a tenuous picture of the stability of the peace agreement. You can read them here.


The Committee heard evidence from Ms. Fabienne Hara (VP, Multilateral Affairs, International Crisis Group, and formally the acting political director of the UN Mission in Sudan.) Her testimony described the significance of the North-South peace agreement, and what it means to Sudan long-term.

"The North-South peace process is the bedrock of peace [in Sudan]. … It's holding Sudan together. If that collapses, they will be returned to war. The return to war has cost the south in the last few years as many lives as in Darfur. It has been extremely violent. It will be extremely violent."

The World Evangelical Alliance and The World Council of Churches have, in a common voice, called on religious and political leaders in Africa and around the world to participate in the assurance of a free and fair referendum and for all to abide by the results.

Changes are needed! Fifty years of violence and strife have proved one thing – another 50 years without change will not bring about a different result. The people of Sudan have suffered enough.

And so as Canadian believers - we need you to pray for Sudan!


Prayer Points:
  • Pray for the peace of Sudan.

  • Pray for a free and democratic vote in this referendum, that the results be supportable by all in Sudan.
  • Pray that international governments, including Canada, will be able to support the results of the referendum, encouraging the Sudanese leadership to hear and accept the voice of their people.
  • Pray that all the people of Sudan would be free from violence and suffering.
  • Pray for the Christians in Sudan, North and South, and for church leaders – that they would, without hesitation, be examples and peace and the heart of Jesus to their country. 


Learn More:

Learn about Sudan from:

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

World Evangelical Alliance

U.S. CIA: World Fact Book

Learn about religious freedom and human rights in Sudan from: 

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

Voice of the Martyrs

Open Doors

 

Take Action:  

Please take the time to voice your concern over this matter to our government officials. In this way you can support our Iraqi brothers and sisters and speak on their behalf. Below is a sample letter to the Hon. Lawrence Cannon, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs:

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Fax: (613) 992-6802

Email: Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca   

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you regarding the upcoming Sudan Separation Referendum scheduled to take place on January 9, 2011. 

President Omar al-Bashirand has already announced his government's intention to change the constitution of Northern Sudan to Sharia Law should the separation of the North and South be ratified.

Sudan is a country buried deep in 50 long years of civil tensions over religion, resources and ideology. The imposition of Sharia Law on the non-Muslim south was one of the reasons for the long civil war, which ended with the signing of the peace agreement in 2005. Many are uneasy about what the constitutional changes in the North might mean to the already existing tensions between the North and South, and to the increased threats to human rights and religious freedom in Northern Sudan --- particularly to the Christian minority.

Also of concern should separation be ratified, it is expected that a large number of Southerners living in the North who may return to the south, creating a huge economic challenge for the South. The choice to leave the North would likely require giving up homes and possessions to return to the South as refugees, likely living in camp conditions. The South is the least developed part of the country, having minimal infrastructure (including healthcare, education, or other social services). This sudden boom in population would put significant stress on their resources. International aid would likely be required.

I would like to applaud the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for the work it has already done in anticipation of the Sudan Referendum, and the report it has presented to the House of Commons entitled The Referendum on Sudan: Where to after 2011?

I would like to thank the government of Canada for its commitment to standing for freedom and fair treatment of all Sudanese people. I respectfully ask that the Canadian government continue to stand for the protection of religious minorities, particularly the Christians in the North of Sudan. I would encourage the Canadian Government to continue to support any efforts that would encourage a respectful and peaceful outcome for the North and South of Sudan once the referendum results are made known, and to encourage the Sudanese leadership to be ambassadors of human rights and religious freedom for all its people.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

 

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In obedience to the Scriptures, the purpose of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Religious Liberty Commission is to promote religious freedom as a fundamental human right*, with a particular focus on Christians. It does this by providing expertise, information and resources to equip, mobilize and network Canadians and organizations, and to influence public policy.

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Helpful Links

World Evangelical Alliance

International Day of Prayer (IDOP)

Voice of the Martyrs Canada

Compass Direct

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Human Rights Watch

Freedom House

US Commission for Human Rights

   
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