Hong Kong police have arrested a former senior Roman Catholic cleric in Chinese territory, Cardinal Joseph Zen, and three other high-profile pro-democracy activists.
Zen, Cantopop singer and Canadian citizen Dennis Ho, veteran lawyer Margaret Ng and scholar Hui Po-keung were arrested, four people familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
The arrests, following approval Former Secretary of Defense John Lee As Hong Kong’s next leader, they were connected to a now-defunct fund that helped opposition activists during the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019, said one person familiar with the issue.
Zen, 90, was a vocal supporter of the Hong Kong Democratic Movement and his arrest could add to tensions between the church and China. He was released on bail from Chai Wan Police Station in Hong Kong Island late Wednesday.
The White House has criticized the arrests, saying freedom of expression is “critical to prosperous and secure societies.”
“We call it the PRC [People’s Republic of China] And the Hong Kong authorities stop focusing on Hong Kong defense attorneys and release immediately [those] Who were wrongfully arrested and charged like Cardinal Joseph Zen and others arrested today, “said Karin Jean-Pierre, the White House’s deputy secretary of state.
Melanie Julie, Canada’s foreign secretary, said the arrests were “very disturbing”.
“The continuing focus on groups in civil society erodes the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents guaranteed under the Hong Kong Basic Law,” Julie Wrote on Twitter.
The Executive Committee of the US Congress of China said that “the arrests should be condemned by all lovers of freedom, including the global businesses that have made Hong Kong their home.” He also urged Michelle Bechelt, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to visit Hong Kong.
“The sad trajectory of this vibrant financial center remains a concern of this committee, the US Congress and all the states committed to protecting the rule of law and fundamental freedoms,” the bipartisan committee added.
Hong Kong police said two men and two women arrested were charged with collaborating with foreign forces, an offense under Hong Kong National Security Law. The government did not respond.
“The Holy See has learned with concern the news of Cardinal Zen’s arrest and is following the situation very closely,” the Vatican press office said.
The four detainees, including Zen, were loyalists of the 612 Humanitarian Aid Fund, which was established in June 2019 following demonstrations across the city. The fund helped pay the protesters’ legal and medical fees and received donations of about $ 250 million from Hong Kong ($ 32 million) by last year.
The foundation stopped operating last year after Hong Kong National Security Authorities said they had launched an investigation into the sources of its donations and whether its actions involved any violation of the sweeping National Security Act Beijing imposed on the city in 2020.
Zen retired from the post of Bishop of Hong Kong in 2009 after serving more than six years. In addition to remaining an open advocate of democracy and human rights, he Strong criticism A Catholic Church Agreement Done with Beijing in 2018 which gave the Chinese Communist Party an official expression on the appointment of bishops.
Hoy is a prominent researcher in cultural studies and supports the 2019 demonstrations. His contract was terminated by the local Lingenan University last year, when the institution refused to offer specific reasons.
More than 180 people have been arrested by Hong Kong law enforcement agencies under national security law, including former lawmakers, activists, journalists and businessmen. Jimmy Lai, the founder of the leading newspaper for democracy, Apple Daily, who is now under arrest, has also been arrested under the law.
Lee, who was officially confirmed as Hong Kong’s next leader, oversaw Sunday’s defense of law enforcement when he was defense minister between 2017 and 2021. Lee is supported by Beijing Will succeed Outgoing CEO Carrie Lam as sworn in on July 1st.
Eric Yan-ho Lai, a Hong Kong justice fellow from the Georgetown Center for Asian Law, said Zen’s arrest was one of the most publicized arrests of Catholic clerics in China for alleged political crimes since that of Cardinal Ignatius Kong in the 1950s. . Kong also protested against Beijing’s control over church activities.
Another report by Amy Casmin in Rome
Hong Kong police arrest Cardinal Zen under national security law Source link Hong Kong police arrest Cardinal Zen under national security law