Cardinal Joseph Zen, one of the crucial senior Catholic clerics in Asia, and three others who helped run a now-disbanded Hong Kong fund for protesters had been arrested on prices of “collusion with foreign forces,” and later launched on bail.
Zen, a 90-year-old former bishop of Hong Kong, was questioned for a number of hours on Wednesday on the Chai Wan Police Station near his church residence, earlier than being launched on police bail. The silver-haired Zen, sporting a white clerical collar, left with out making any remark to the media.
Local police stated in a press release that the nationwide safety division of the police power had arrested two males and two girls, starting from 45 to 90 years outdated for “collusion with foreign forces” on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Police stated they had been suspected of asking for international sanctions. All had been launched on bail with their passports confiscated underneath the nationwide safety legislation, police stated.
A authorized supply aware of the matter had earlier instructed Reuters that 5 folks had been arrested in reference to the case: Zen; senior barrister Margaret Ng, 74; activist and pop singer Denise Ho; former lawmaker Cyd Ho; and former tutorial Hui Po-keung.
Zen has lengthy been an advocate of democratic causes in Hong Kong and mainland China, and has spoken out in opposition to China’s rising authoritarianism underneath President Xi Jinping, together with a Beijing-imposed nationwide safety legislation, and the persecution of some Roman Catholics in China.
Hui had been arrested on the airport on Tuesday evening, in keeping with media reviews, whereas Cyd Ho was already in jail over a separate case.
The 5 had been trustees of the “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund” which helped protesters who had been arrested throughout pro-democracy, anti-China protests in 2019 to assist pay their authorized and medical charges.
Hong Kong has lengthy been one of the crucial necessary Catholic beachheads in Asia, dwelling to an intensive community of support businesses, students and missions which have supported Catholics in mainland China and elsewhere.
Beijing imposed the sweeping nationwide safety legislation in June 2020 that punishes terrorism, collusion with international forces, subversion and secession with potential life imprisonment.
The Vatican stated on Wednesday it had discovered of the arrest of Zen in Hong Kong “with concern” and was following developments “with extreme attention”.
Reuters was not in a position to instantly attain the others for remark. The Hong Kong Catholic Diocese gave no speedy remark.
The “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund” was scrapped final yr after the disbandment of an organization that had helped obtain donations via a checking account.
The arrests come after police stated final September that they’d begun investigating the fund for alleged violations of the nationwide safety legislation.
White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre referred to as on China and Hong Kong authorities to stop focusing on Hong Kong advocates and to right away launch these “unjustly detained and charged,” together with Zen.
“All I can tell you is that I think we’re increasingly troubled by steps in Hong Kong to pressure and eliminate civil society,” U.S. Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell instructed a separate occasion in Washington when requested in regards to the arrests.
Hui, an affiliate cultural research professor at Lingnan University, had as soon as taught exiled democracy activist Nathan Law.
“If you want to punish someone, you can always find an excuse,” Law wrote on his Facebook web page in response to Hui’s arrest.
Critics, together with the United States, say the safety legislation erodes the freedoms promised by China underneath a “one country, two systems” association when Hong Kong was returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Hong Kong authorities, nonetheless, say the legislation has introduced stability to town after the 2019 mass demonstrations.