Recalling Tiananmen Victims, Bishop Zen Defends Freedom

Addresses Catholics Before Anniversary Vigil

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HONG KONG, JUNE 7, 2004 ( The head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong urged its members to fight against those who breached the «one country, two systems» principle and threatened freedom of speech.

Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun spoke to more than 800 Catholics taking part Sunday in a prayer meeting to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, in Beijing. The meeting was held in Victoria Park in Hong Kong before a vigil, AsiaNews reported.

Bishop Zen said Hong Kong had experienced its very own «June 4» this year, when hopes for full democracy in 2007-2008 were shattered by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation of the Basic Law in April.

«The June 4 we experienced did not shed any blood; there were neither tanks nor machine guns. But in their fierce shape, the so-called guardians of the Basic Law came to lecture us about patriotism, and certain [Beijing officials] claimed some people wanted to achieve independence» for Hong Kong,» the bishop said.

«Before we had a chance to discuss the issues surrounding universal suffrage in 2007-2008, the committee had already made a decision for us,» he lamented.

The religious leader was making his second appearance at the annual candlelight vigil.

«The authoritarians massacred our patriotic youngsters,» Bishop Zen said. «How can we not fight for their vindication? Some people have breached the one-country, two-systems principle one-sidedly by interpreting the Basic Law. How can we not stand up and say no?»

The prelate said it had become increasingly obvious that democracy and freedom in Hong Kong were not to be taken for granted.

He described some of the people who persuaded the public to be more tolerant and to cherish peace as «culprits» and «helpers of the culprits.»

«We should pay no heed to them,» Bishop Zen said, «because peace without justice can only be the illusion of peace.»

In recent weeks, the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based watchdog group, reported that two priests of the underground Catholic Church who had been arrested in mid-May in mainland China have since been released.

Father Lu Genjun, 42, and Father Cheng Xiaoli, 40, were arrested May 14 in the northern province of Hebei. They were released four days later, the Kung Foundation said. No other details were given.

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