90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen arrested by HK police over National Security Law

(Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

According to local media sources, on May 11, Hong Kong authorities arrested Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90, and four other pro-democracy leaders reportedly related to a fund supporting Hong Kong demonstrators. The arrests were undertaken under a severe national security law enacted by Beijing and used to suppress opposition in the city.

The Hong Kong National Security Police Unit arrested Zen, the former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, singer and activist Denise Ho, academic Hui Po-Keung, attorney Margaret Ng, and former lawmaker Cyd Ho for allegedly violating the National Security Law's "collusion with foreign forces" provision.

Those accused were trustees of the now-defunct "612 Humanitarian Relief Fund," which in 2019 supplied medical and humanitarian aid to Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators. The fund expires in August of 2021.

Zen has long advocated for religious and civic freedoms in Hong Kong and mainland China. He has spoken out against the communist regime's increasing authoritarianism, including a Beijing-imposed national security law and the persecution of some Roman Catholics in China.

According to media accounts, Hui was arrested at the airport on Tuesday night, while Cyd Ho was already incarcerated for a separate offense.

"We condemn the arrests of these activists whose alleged crime was funding legal aid for pro-democracy protestors in 2019," said Hong Kong Watch's chief executive, Benedict Rogers. "Today's arrests prove conclusively that Beijing intends to intensify its crackdown on Hong Kong's fundamental rights and liberties,"

He said, "We urge the international community to shed light on this brutal repression and demand the immediate release of these activists."

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) enforced the national security law in Hong Kong in June 2020 and has been utilizing it to silence dissenting voices by prosecuting anyone Beijing deems to have engaged in terrorism, subversion, cooperation with foreign forces, or secession. These crimes have a maximum sentence of life in prison, and over a hundred pro-democracy figures have been arrested or charged with crimes.

The law has attracted worldwide attention, with Western nations claiming it has been used to stifle dissent, restrict free speech, and erode Hong Kong's autonomy.

The arrest occurred days after Hong Kong's new leader, former security head John Lee, assumed power. Lee was the only candidate in the Beijing-controlled selection procedure for the Hong Kong Chief Executive election of 2022 who campaigned unchallenged.

Kurt Campbell, the U.S. coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, expressed worry over the "crackdown" in Hong Kong, notably on religious and academic groups.

In response to a question about the arrests, Campbell told a Washington-based online event, "All I can say is that I'm increasingly troubled by Hong Kong's efforts to pressure and eliminate civil society."

Hui, an associate professor of cultural studies at Lingnan University, had trained exiled democracy campaigner Nathan Law in the past.

Law commented on his Facebook page in response to Hui's arrest, "If you want to punish someone, you can always find an excuse."

Publish : 2022-05-11 22:45:00

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