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FABC President expresses concern about Hong Kong Cardinal Zen’s arrest

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo (Photo by CBCM)

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), expresses his deep concern about religious freedom and human right in Hong Kong after the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen, in his statement published on May 14. 

On May 11, the 90-year-old Cardinal Zen, former archbishop of Hong Kong was arrested for being a trustee of the fund to provide for the legal expenses of the activists. It is suitable and right to provide help to those who are facing prosecution, the statement said.

Cardinal Bo questioned the arrest of Cardinal Zen, saying, “In any system where the rule of law exists, providing assistance to help people facing prosecution meet their legal fees is a proper and accepted right. How can it be a crime to help accused persons have legal defense and representation?”

Bo said, “I urge the international community to continue to monitor the situation and speak out for freedom and justice.”

Cardinal Bo is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), and the Archbishop of Yangon Archdiocese, Myanmar, 

Bo requested the Catholic and the Christian world to pray for Hong Kong and for China on May 24, on the Feast of Mary's Help of Christians, as well as the feast of Our Mother of Sheshan for China. It is also the Global Day of Prayer for the Church in China. 

Last year, it was a Global week of prayer for China at the cardinal’s request and a group of lay Catholics all over the world participated. 

“This Year I urge Christians of all traditions everywhere to pray for Hong Kong especially, and the Church in China, as well as the Uyghurs, Tibetans, and others facing persecution in China, during that Week of Prayer, and to pray especially for Cardinal Zen on 24 May itself as we seek the prayers of Mary Help of Christians. Where possible, churches might consider a votive Mass on this day,” Bo said.

The FABC president stated the change in Hong Kong’s situation from one of the free and open cities in Asia to a police state due to the dismantling of “freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and association, and academic freedom.” 

He said, “I am aware of recent propaganda attacks against the Church in pro-Beijing media in Hong Kong, and of growing self-censorship among religious leaders due to the circumstances.” 

It is heartbreaking to see going down quickly to “a much darker and more repressive path” from the condition of the city as “the beacon for freedom, including religious freedom.”

“To see a government in China break its promises made in an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, so repeatedly and blatantly, is appalling,” the statement reads.

Due to the decreasing of freedom of expression in Hong Kong, the cardinal urged those who are outside of Hong Kong to be a voice on their behalf and to be in solidarity with and support them through our prayers and efforts so that their freedom will be restored in one day.

The outspoken Cardinal Zen was arrested by the authorities in Hong Kong on May 11 evening (local time) because of being a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund to aid legal fees for pro-democracy protestors.

According to the Financial Times report, hours after being detained, Cardinal Zen was released on bail from Chai Wan Police Station in Hong Kong late on May 11. - Patrick Soe Htun / Mahn Jim 

 

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