Hong Kong
The Sunday Review
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A 90-year-old former bishop and outspoken critic of China’s ruling Communist Party was found guilty Friday, on a charge related to his involvement in a relief fund For Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Protests in 2019

Cardinal Joseph Zen and five other Cantopop artists, including Denise Ho (cantopop singer), acted against the Societies Ordinance. They failed to register the now-defunct Societies Ordinance. “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund” that was partly used to pay protesters’ legal and medical fees, the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts ruled.

The silver-haired cardinalHe appeared in court carrying a walking stick and his co-defendants, but they all denied the charges.

The case is seen as a mark of political freedom. Hong Kong During an ongoing crackdown pro-democracy The Vatican is currently preparing to renew an unpopular deal with Beijing, so this move comes at a delicate time over The appointment of bishops for China.

Zen and four others – singer Ho, barrister Margaret Ng, scholar Hui Po Keung, and politician Cyd Ho – who were trustees of the fund They were each sentenced to fines totaling HK$4,000 ($510).

Sze Chingwee, a sixth defendant, was also indicted. fund’s secretary, was fined HK$2,500 ($320).

They were initially charged under the Beijing-backed national safety law for colluding to foreign forces. This law carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. They were cleared of the original charges. Instead, they were charged under the Societies Ordinance. It is a century-old colonial law that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. However, fines as high as HK$10,000 ($1,274) are possible.

In September, the court heard that the legal fund Through 100,000 deposits, the equivalent to $34.4 million was raised.

The government provides financial assistance to protesters in addition to other benefits. fund Sponsored also with this code pro-democracy Rallyes such as the payment for audio equipment in 2019 during street protests to resist Beijing’s tightening grip.

Zen and the five other defendants were exempted from the charges under the national safety law. Beijing has imposed this legislation. over Hong Kong In June 2020, in an effort to quell protests, has been repeatedly used to curb dissent.

Since the imposition of the law, most of the city’s prominent pro-democracy Numerous independent media outlets have been closed while figures have been detained or have fled to exile.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denied criticism that the law – which criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces – has stifled freedoms, claiming instead it has restored order in the city after the 2019 protest movement.

Hong Kong’s prosecution of one of Asia’s most senior clergyman has cast the relationship between Beijing and the Holy See into sharp focus.

Zen opposed a controversial 2018 agreement between China and the Vatican. over The appointment of bishops. Both sides demanded previously the final decision on appointment of bishops in mainland China. There religious activities are closely monitored and sometimes banned.

Zen was the child of Catholic parents, born in Shanghai in 1932. Hong Kong As a teenager, he fled the Communist regime with his family. He was ordained priest in 1961 and became Bishop of Hong Kong Before retiring in 2009, 2002.

Also known as the “conscience of Hong Kong” Zen is a long-standing advocate for democracy and human rights among his supporters. He has been on the front lines of some of the city’s most important protests, from the mass rally against national security legislation in 2003 to the “Umbrella Movement” demanding universal suffrage in 2014.