Controversial security law: Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong arrested

Status: 05/11/2022 8:01 p.m.

Former Hong Kong Archbishop Zen and other members of the pro-democracy movement have been arrested under the controversial security law. The Vatican has expressed concern. Zen has since been released on bail.

The former archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has been arrested in Hong Kong for alleged violations of the controversial national security law. The South China Morning Post newspaper, citing a source, reported that retired Cardinal Zen, former opposition MP Margaret Ng and singer Denise Ho have been arrested for “alleged collusion with foreign forces”.

The three were among five trustees of a relief fund set up to provide financial support to activists involved in the 2019 anti-government protests in Hong Kong. The fund was shut down in 2021, UK-based human rights group Hong Kong Watch said.

release on bail

Two men and two women, aged 45 to 90, have been arrested on charges of conspiring to collaborate with foreign forces to endanger national security, police said. They would be released on bail, but their travel documents would be confiscated.

Media saw Zen wave to reporters as they walked out of a police station.

New arrests in Hong Kong

According to Hong Kong Watch, cultural scientist and university professor Hui Po Keung was arrested the day before by national security police at Hong Kong airport. Human Rights Watch (HRW) Chinese expert Maya Wang said former MP Cyd Ho Sau Lan was also arrested.

They, too, were reportedly involved as trustees in running the fund that funded legal aid for people who took part in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong two years ago. In the summer of 2020, Beijing then passed a draconian national security law for its special administrative region of Hong Kong, which severely restricts the political rights of the population. Since then, many opposition supporters have been arrested, withdrawn from political life or fled abroad.

critics of Chinese leaders

Cardinal Zen is considered a vigorous critic of China and has strongly condemned the 2018 treaty between the Vatican and the People’s Republic on the appointment of Catholic bishops in the country as a betrayal of China’s underground church. For decades, the Chinese Church has been divided into a so-called Patriotic Association, loyal to the state, and an underground church.

Zen, bishop of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2009, is one of the most influential representatives of the Catholic Church in Asia in terms of church policy. Long beyond his tenure, the Salesian monk of Don Bosco was one of the most prominent critics of Beijing’s communist leadership and its policies on human rights and religion. In an interview with the KNA news agency in 2018, he said, “Incredible. How can the Vatican pin any hopes on such a government?” He has always feared that the Holy See would let the government in Beijing dictate its own actions.

concern in the Vatican

In Rome, the news of the arrest of the 90-year-old man has caused great concern. “The Holy See is concerned about the arrest of Cardinal Zen and is following developments with the utmost attention,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said. In a statement, the White House in Washington called for the “immediate release” of those “wrongfully arrested and charged”.

Human Rights Watch called the arrests “shocking.” “The arrest of a 90-year-old cardinal for his peaceful activities is a shocking new low for Hong Kong and illustrates the free fall of human rights in the city over the past two years,” said Wang, a member. of HRW staff, to the Hong Kong Free Press. gate. “The arrests, which follow the Chinese government’s appointment of former security chief John Lee as city government chief, are a worrying sign that the crackdown in Hong Kong will intensify.”

The former security chief is the new Prime Minister

The former security minister, loyal to Beijing, was named Hong Kong’s new head of government this weekend. A committee voted for Lee with 99% of the vote, and there were no opposing candidates. The 64-year-old played a central role in the crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, which mobilized millions in 2019.

“I realize that it will take me time to convince the people,” Lee said after his election. “But I will get there through action.” Now that the authorities have “restored order from chaos”, its aim is to create a Hong Kong “full of hope, opportunity and harmony”.

Religious freedom under pressure

Since the introduction of China’s so-called National Security Law in late June 2020, civil liberties, press freedom and the rule of law have been suppressed in China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Religious freedom is also coming under increasing pressure from pro-China leaders.

In June 2021, pro-China activists targeted services at seven Catholic churches on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. They placed banners in front of churches that read “Malicious Cult” and depicted Cardinal Zen as a horned devil.

Hong Kong: Cardinal Zen and other activists arrested

Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Beijing, 11.5.2022 17:36

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