HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities arrested a Roman Catholic cardinal, a singer and a minimum of two others on Wednesday on suspicion of colluding with overseas forces to hazard China’s nationwide safety, stories mentioned.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, singer-actress Denise Ho, lawyer Margaret Ng and scholar Hui Po-keung have been detained by Hong Kong’s Nationwide Safety Police, the U.Ok.-based human rights group Hong Kong Watch mentioned.
The arrests have been apparently associated to their roles as trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Aid Fund, which offered authorized help to individuals who took half in 2019 pro-democracy protests that have been quashed by safety forces, the group mentioned. The fund closed in 2021, it mentioned.
Scores of pro-democracy activists have been arrested underneath a sweeping Nationwide Safety Legislation imposed on the town by Beijing in 2020 following the demonstrations. Town’s impartial media have been gutted and its legislature reorganized to pack it with Beijing loyalists.
Zen, the retired archbishop of Hong Kong, is a fierce critic of China and has been blistering in his condemnation of the Vatican’s 2018 settlement with Beijing over bishop nominations, which he has mentioned was a sellout of underground Christians in China.
The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, mentioned the Holy See “realized with concern the information of the arrest of Cardinal Zen and is following the evolution of the state of affairs with excessive consideration.”
Ho additionally has been outspoken in her advocacy of civil and political rights. Her supervisor, Jelly Cheng, confirmed Ho’s arrest however mentioned she had no different data.
Hui was arrested at Hong Kong’s worldwide airport as he sought to go away the town, Hong Kong Watch mentioned.
“At this time’s arrests sign past a doubt that Beijing intends to accentuate its crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong,” mentioned the group’s chief government, Benedict Rogers.
“We urge the worldwide neighborhood to shine a light-weight on this brutal crackdown and name for the quick launch of those activists,” Rogers mentioned.
A number of main Kong Kong activists have fled to Taiwan, Britain or elsewhere, whereas hundreds of different Hong Kongers have chosen to go away the town, elevating considerations concerning the financial way forward for the Asian monetary heart of seven.4 million.
The arrests comply with the choice on Sunday of Hong Kong’s new chief, John Lee, a hard-line former safety chief who ran unopposed in a course of managed by Beijing.
The European Union and overseas ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized international locations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.Ok. and the U.S. — condemned the election as essentially undemocratic and a betrayal of the “one nation, two programs” precept underneath which Hong Kong was alleged to retain its personal political, authorized and financial system for 50 years after the top of British colonial rule.
Hong Kong’s authorities and police had no quick touch upon the reported arrests.
Maya Wang, Human Rights Watch’s China senior researcher, mentioned she understood a fifth individual, former Legislative Council member Cyd Ho Sau-lan, had additionally been arrested.
Arresting Zen for his peaceable actions “needs to be a surprising new low for Hong Kong, illustrating the town’s free fall in human rights up to now two years,” Wang mentioned in an announcement.