Hong Kong | Cardinal and pop singer arrested

It wasn’t long before a former policeman arrived at the head of Hong Kong.

Posted at 6:00 AM

Jean Christophe Lawrence

Jean Christophe Lawrence
Journalism

Four days after John Lee was appointed chief executive, authorities in the Special Administrative Region arrested prominent figures on Wednesday under the National Security Act.

They include pop singer and Canadian citizen Dennis He as well as Cardinal Joseph Zane, one of the territory’s leading Catholic clergy.

This network is linked to their participation in Organization 612, a humanitarian fund that aims to support victims of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.

They were released on bail a few hours later, but the White House and the Vatican strongly denounced the arrests, calling them “unfair” and “disturbing.”

The 612 Fund was set up to help those detained or injured after protests against the 2019 extradition bill that took place in the economic capital of 7.7 million people.

The organization is said to have supported about 950 legal cases and distributed HK$243 million (40 million treasure) in various donations, before it was dismantled in 2021 after pressure from the authorities.

“Their presumed crime is the financing of legal aid,” Hong Kong Director Benedict Rogers said in a statement released on Wednesday.

For Mr. Rogers, these arrests send a deeply troubling signal. He adds that they demonstrate “beyond any reasonable doubt”, as he puts it, that Beijing “intends to intensify its suppression of fundamental liberties and rights.”

PHOTO TYRONE SIU, Reuters archive

Hong Kong’s new CEO, John Lee, at a press conference last Monday

Since Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, Beijing has gradually tightened its grip on the former British colony, which nonetheless promised a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years.

This security grip appears to have been confirmed with the recent appointment of John Lee as chief of the executive branch, after a biased election led by Beijing.

This former policeman, who was deemed an “abusive” by Human Rights Watch, was the chief of police during the demonstrations of the pro-democracy movement that took an extremely violent turn in 2019.

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Canadian Denise Ho is not in her first predicament with Hong Kong justice. The former Broussard resident, who became a Cantonese pop star and LGBT ambassador under the HOCC name, was arrested in December 2021 for her numerous calls for dissent.

The former bishop of Hong Kong, where 400,000 Catholics live, Cardinal Zen is known for his unspoken words and tireless defense of political freedoms and democratic reforms.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, the Holy See said it “has learned with concern the news of the arrest of Cardinal Zein and [suivre] The situation developed with great interest.”

The bishop has long spoken out against any agreement between the Catholic Church and Beijing over the appointment of Chinese bishops, believing it would be a betrayal of persecuted members of the informal church in China.

There have been no diplomatic relations between the Vatican and China since 1951, but a historic “interim” agreement was signed in September 2018 with Beijing on the appointment of bishops.

Another figure in the movement, academic Hui Bo Kyung, was also arrested on Wednesday for “collusion with foreign forces,” which is punishable by the national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 in response to the massive demonstrations in the past. public.

The accused were released a few hours after their arrest, and the accused will appear in Hong Kong courts. But Benjamin Fung, a Facebook spokesperson for the Free Action Group Hong Kong Montreal, has no illusions.

The Hong Kong government will appoint specific judges linked to the National Security Law and it is already known that they will be biased. So we can anticipate the outcome. However, they did nothing illegal. »

Mr. Fong suspects that the singer, professor, and cardinal will be sent to prison, unlike other lesser-known dissidents. He said their trial would set an example.

“It’s a symbolic issue,” he said. The message the authorities are sending is that no matter how famous you are, you can be arrested if you violate the security law. This is the message…”

With AFP and Globe and Mail

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