Cardinal Joseph Zen: Human rights activists in Hong Kong sentenced

Status: 11/25/2022 11:22 am

He is one of the highest-ranking representatives of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong: Cardinal Joseph Zen, along with other human rights activists, has now been fined. They had supported democracy activists.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, critical of Beijing, and five other human rights activists have been fined in Hong Kong. The West Kowloo court found guilty on the grounds that the defendants had not properly registered a fund to provide financial support to democracy activists.

Five of the accused, including Cardinal Zen, were fined HK$4,000. A co-defendant has to pay the equivalent of a good 300 euros. All of the defendants had previously pleaded not guilty. They are accused of “conspiring with foreign states and powers”.

Fund financed legal aid for activists

The group had supported Hong Kong residents arrested during pro-democracy protests three years ago. According to the public prosecutor’s office, a good 100,000 individual donations with a total value of 270 million Hong Kong dollars, the equivalent of more than 33 million euros, were paid into the fund. He offered money for those arrested and injured so that they could afford legal assistance. The fund has since been dissolved.

The chief justice stated that the foundation does not exclusively serve charitable but political purposes. The defense had denied this.

Arrests had sparked outrage

The 90-year-old Zen is one of the highest-ranking representatives of the Catholic Church in the financial metropolis of Hong Kong and one of the most influential representatives of the Catholic Church in Asia. He has often openly criticized the Chinese state and party leadership.

In addition to him, the pop singer and activist Denise Ho and long-time lawyer Margaret Ng have also been convicted. The brief arrests in May and the trial had triggered outrage around the world.

Repression by “Security Law”

In 2019, hundreds of thousands demonstrated, sometimes violently, against the government in Hong Kong, the former British colony, which faithfully implements the policies of the communist central government in Beijing. Hong Kong police used tear gas and rubber bullets to crush the protests, some brutally.

After that, China introduced a so-called “National Security Law” in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which can criminalize everything that is directed against the communist state and party leadership. Since then, many people have been arrested in Hong Kong or fled abroad, including opposition figures, democracy activists, dissidents and journalists.

With information from Eva Lamby-Schmitt, ARD Studio Shanghai

Hong Kong: Cardinal Zen fined

Eva Lamby-Schmitt, ARD Shanghai, 25.11.2022 10:19 a.m

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