Hong Kong finds Cardinal Joseph Zen responsible of funding pro-democracy protest

Hong Kong

A 90-year-old former bishop and outspoken critic of China’s Communist Celebration was discovered responsible on Friday of 1 cost associated to his position in an support fund for Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy protests.

Cardinal Joseph Zen and 5 others, together with Cantopop singer Denise Ho, breached the Societies Ordinance by failing to register the now-defunct “612 Humanitarian Aid Fund” which was utilized in half to pay the protesters’ authorized and medical charges, the magistrates of West Kowloon. The courts dominated.

The silver-haired cardinal, who appeared in courtroom with a cane, and his co-defendants denied the cost.

The case is seen as a marker of political freedom in Hong Kong amid an ongoing crackdown on the pro-democracy motion, and comes at a delicate time for the Vatican, which is making ready to resume a controversial cope with Beijing over the appointment of bishops in China. .

Outdoors courtroom, Zen informed reporters he hoped folks wouldn’t hyperlink his conviction to spiritual freedom.

“I noticed that many individuals abroad are involved in regards to the arrest of a cardinal. It’s not associated to spiritual freedom. I’m a part of the background. (Hong Kong) has not seen injury to its spiritual freedom,” Zen mentioned.

Zen and 4 different directors of the fund – singer Ho, lawyer Margaret Ng, tutorial Hui Po Keung and politician Cyd Ho – have been fined HK$4,000 ($510) every.

A sixth defendant, Sze Ching-wee, who was the fund’s secretary, was fined HK$2,500 ($320).

All had initially been charged underneath the controversial Beijing-backed nationwide safety legislation for colluding with overseas forces, which carries a most sentence of life in jail. These fees have been dropped and so they as a substitute confronted a lesser cost underneath the Societies Ordinance, a century-old colonial-era legislation punishable by fines of as much as HK$10,000 ($1,274) however no jail time for first-time offenders .

The courtroom heard in September that the authorized fund raised the equal of $34.4 million by 100,000 deposits.

Along with offering monetary support to protesters, the fund was additionally used to sponsor pro-democracy demonstrations, similar to paying for used audio tools. in 2019 throughout avenue protests to withstand Beijing’s grip.

Though Zen and the opposite 5 defendants prevented fees underneath the nationwide safety legislation, laws imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong in June 2020 to quell protests has been repeatedly used to curb dissent.

Because the imposition of the legislation, a lot of the metropolis’s distinguished democratic figures have been arrested or exiled, whereas a number of unbiased media and non-governmental organizations have been shut down.

Hong Kong’s authorities has repeatedly denied criticism that the legislation, which criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with overseas forces, has stifled freedoms, saying it has restored order within the metropolis after the 2019 protest motion.

The prosecution in Hong Kong in opposition to probably the most senior clerics in Asia has made clear the connection between Beijing and the Holy See.

Zen strongly opposed a controversial settlement reached in 2018 between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops. Each side have beforehand demanded the ultimate say on bishop appointments in mainland China, the place spiritual actions are carefully watched and generally banned.

Born to Catholic dad and mom in Shanghai in 1932, Zen fled to Hong Kong together with his household to flee the approaching communist rule as a youngster. He was ordained a priest in 1961 and appointed Bishop of Hong Kong in 2002, earlier than retiring in 2009.

Often known as the “conscience of Hong Kong” amongst his supporters, Zen has lengthy been a distinguished defender of democracy, human rights and spiritual freedom. He has been on the forefront of a few of the metropolis’s largest protests, from the mass rally in opposition to nationwide safety laws in 2003 to the “Umbrella Motion” calling for common suffrage in 2014.

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