'A Shocking New Low for Hong Kong'

Cardinal, 90, is among 4 arrested under national security law
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2022 6:10 PM CDT
'A Shocking New Low for Hong Kong'
From left, Cardinal Joseph Zen, barrister Margaret Ng, professor Hui Po-keung, and singer Denise Ho attend a press conference to announce the closure of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, in Hong Kong, Aug.18, 2021.   (HK01 via AP)

Human Rights Watch calls it a "shocking new low for Hong Kong." Cardinal Joseph Zen, one of the most senior Catholic clergy members in Asia, was arrested Wednesday under the national security law Beijing imposed on the territory after pro-democracy protests in 2019, the BBC reports. The 90-year-old cardinal was arrested along with pop singer Denise Ho, former legislator Margaret Ng, and Dr. Hui Po Keung, an academic who was reportedly arrested at Hong Kong's international airport Tuesday night as he tried to leave for an academic posting in Europe.

Zen, a former Bishop of Hong Kong, has long been known for his pro-democracy sympathies. The four people arrested Tuesday and Wednesday are accused of "collusion with foreign forces," as is former lawmaker Cyd Ho, who is already in prison for a separate case, reports Reuters. All five were trustees of a now-disbanded fund that helped pay legal and medical bills for people arrested in the 2019 protests. According to police in Hong Kong, they endangered China's national security by urging other countries to place sanctions on Hong Kong over the crackdown on protests.

"Arresting a 90-year-old cardinal for his peaceful activities has to be a shocking new low for Hong Kong, illustrating the city's free fall in human rights in the past two years," Human Rights Watch said. A Vatican spokesman said the church "is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention," the AP reports. The arrests come days after John Lee, the security chief who led the crackdown on protests, was chosen as the city's new leader by an overwhelmingly pro-Beijing election committee. Lee, the only candidate, received more than 99% of the vote, with a handful of the committee's 1,500 members abstaining. (More Hong Kong stories.)

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