Hong Kong: Ten People Arrested in Connection with Cardinal Zen’s Trial
Bobo Yip Po-lam
Among the people who have been arrested are six men and four women, aged 26 to 43. According to the police, they are suspected of “conspiracy” and “collusion” with a foreign country and external elements to “endanger” national security, with regards to the case of Cardinal Zen, who is still under threat of a new trial.
A new crackdown has been unleashed by Hong Kong authorities against activism, democratic struggle, and civil liberties, under the infamous “National Security Law,” imposed by Beijing in 2020. On August 10, the Police arrested 10 people for violating the law in connection with a long-closed humanitarian aid fund for which Hong Kong Bishop Emeritus Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-chiun is still charged.
During the raid carried out yesterday morning, a prominent Catholic leader was also arrested. Indeed, Bobo Yip, a Catholic activist, is among the 10 people who were arrested, according to the Hong Kong Free Press newspaper. Bobo Yip was notably president of the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission.
After the arrest, officers took her to a Catholic bookstore in the Yau Ma Tei neighborhood to collect evidence against her and seized two computers. The charges against those arrested had so far only been raised in the trial of Cardinal Zen; if found guilty, they face a prison sentence of up to life.
In a memo, the Hong Kong Police's National Security Department confirmed the detention of a dozen people “between the ages of 26 and 43 in different districts.” These people are suspected of “conspiracy” and “collusion” with a foreign country or external elements to “endanger national security [...] and incitement to riot.”
“The people arrested,” the statement concludes, “are suspected of having conspired with the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund to receive donations from various foreign organizations to support people who fled abroad or organizations calling for sanctions against Hong Kong.”
The 612 Fund was established in June 2019 to provide “support to all persons arrested (regardless of charges), injured, or affected” during the 2019 mass protests. The protests were linked to the government attempt to pass a law that would have authorized the deportation of political detainees to mainland China for trial.
Months of massive protests have led to a police crackdown. Until the fund closed in October 2021, the organization helped thousands of protesters. The defendants, connected to the fund in various ways, point out that the charity was not required to register under the Companies Ordinance. For the prosecution, the charity was political in nature and therefore could not benefit from the exemption from public registration.
The police arrested Cardinal Zen in May 2022 in connection with the 612 Fund litigation. Released after a few hours, the 90-year-old bishop emeritus of the city found himself standing at the dock with the famous lawyer Margaret Ng, singer and activist Denise Ho, former MP Cyd Ho, academic Hui Po-keung, and activist Sze Ching-wee.
In November 2022, Cardinal Zen was fined 4,000 Hong Kong dollars (less than 500 euros) for failing to register the fund. But the threat of a new indictment for collusion with foreign forces still looms. In January, the cardinal, whose passport was confiscated by the authorities, obtained special authorization to leave for a few days to attend the funeral of Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI.
(Source : Asianews – FSSPX.Actualités)
Illustration : IBHK 網絡新聞, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons