A Roman Catholic cardinal, a singer and at least two others have reportedly been arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces to endanger China’s national security.
Hong Kong authorities reportedly arrested a Roman Catholic cardinal, a singer and at least two others on Wednesday on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces to endanger China’s national security.
The United Kingdom-based human rights organization Hong Kong Watch said that the National Security Police in Hong Kong have detained Cardinal Joseph Zen, singer and actress Denise Ho, lawyer Margaret Ng and researcher Hui Po Kyung.
The organization said the arrests were apparently related to their roles as trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which provided legal aid to people who took part in the 2019 pro-democracy protests that were repressed by security forces. She added that the fund closed in 2021.
Dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested under the sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on the city in 2020 in the wake of the demonstrations. The city’s independent media was destroyed and the legislature was reorganized to include it with Beijing loyalists.
Zin, a retired Hong Kong archbishop, is a vocal critic of China and has been scathing in his condemnation of the Vatican’s 2018 agreement with Beijing over bishop nominations, which he said was a sell-off to crypto-Christians in China.
The Vatican did not immediately respond when asked to comment on news of his arrest.
She, too, was outspoken in her defense of civil and political rights. Her manager, Gilly Cheng, confirmed Ho’s arrest, but said she had no further information.
Hong Kong Watch said Hui was arrested at Hong Kong International Airport while trying to leave the city.
“Today’s arrests indicate beyond any doubt that Beijing intends to intensify its crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong,” said the group’s chief executive, Benedict Rogers.
“We urge the international community to shine a light on this brutal campaign and call for the immediate release of these activists,” Rogers said.
Many prominent Hong Kong activists have fled to Taiwan, Britain or elsewhere, while thousands of other Hong Kong residents have chosen to leave the city, raising concerns about the economic future of the Asian financial hub of 7.4 million people.
The arrests follow the selection on Sunday of Hong Kong’s new leader, John Lee, a hard-line former security chief who ran unopposed in a process controlled by Beijing.
The European Union and the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – condemned the elections as fundamentally undemocratic and a betrayal of the “one country, two systems” principle under which Hong Kong was supposed to keep its political, legal and economic system for 50 years. After the end of British colonial rule.
The Hong Kong government and police had no immediate comment on the reported arrests.
Maya Wang, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in China, said she learned that a fifth person, former legislator Sid Ho Sao-lan, had also been arrested.
In a statement, Wang said Zain’s arrest for his peaceful activities “must be a shocking new low for Hong Kong, illustrating the city’s free decline in human rights in the past two years.”
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