LET THE CAPTIVES GO FREE
NB As with all rapid-response assemblies, you might need to update this assembly.
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To reflect on the news of prisoner releases.
Preparation and materials
- Can you remember what you were doing during the autumn half-term last year? (Take some answers.)
- For a British couple who, on the 23rd of October, were sailing in the Indian Ocean from the Seychelles towards Tanzania, this time last year was the beginning of a nightmare, which it looked like they might not survive. Does anyone remember what happened to this very normal couple? (They were captured by pirates and taken prisoner in Somalia.)
- For over a year, ransom demands were made, and the government and their family kept saying they couldn’t pay the money. For much of the time, the couple were kept apart, and they thought they would be killed.
- But what happened on the 14th of November this year? (They were released.)
Somehow, money to pay a ransom was gathered together, and the money sent out to Somalia. The couple flew to Kenya and on to Britain on Monday the 15th, where they (will meet) up with their family to celebrate their liberty.
- And who can remember twenty years ago? (Only teachers and staff!)
- Twenty years ago, Burma (also known as Myanmar), a country in South-East Asia, held elections and a woman called Ang San Suu Kyi won by a huge majority – a landslide victory. But the people who were running Burma at that time said that the elections were null and void, and decided to ignore the results. The authorities placed Ang San Suu Kyi under house arrest. She couldn’t leave her house and, for most of the twenty years since then, she has remained a prisoner. That government, which is run by the army and is very harsh towards anyone who protests or asks for real fairness and democracy, is still in power.
- On the 7th of November, Burma held elections but Ang San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, didn’t take part. The present government won but the United Nations has said that the elections were fraudulent. The USA and Japan had been negotiating behind the scenes for Ang San Suu Kyi’s release. Her sentence came to an end and Ang San Suu Kyi was released. The people of Burma, after twenty years, are hoping that their country will begin to move towards a fair system at last.
Time for reflection
Light a candle and show the pictures of the released captives.
Imagine you were held apart from your family for a year – how glad you would be when you were released!
Imagine how happy the people of Burma must have been when their figurehead Ang San Suu Kyi was released.
Ang San Suu Kyi is a Buddhist. She believes that the people who locked her up did so because they were afraid. Their fear caused them to do things to ensure she couldn’t challenge their power.
She said: ‘We must work together. We Burmese tend to believe in fate but, if we want change, we have to do it ourselves.’
Despite all that she has been through, this brave woman wants to continue to work for the people of her country, and is calling on them to work for change to make life better for everyone.
What could we do together to bring the sort of changes that would benefit this school, I wonder? (Take a few replies if you have them.)
We think of the Chandlers and Ang San Suu Kyi enjoying their new freedom,
and we thank God for it.
We remember all those who are still captives, held in Burma or by Somali pirates,
and hope that they too will be released soon.
We say ‘thank you’ for the freedom that we enjoy every day and rarely even notice.
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)