Hong Kong Prays and Rallies for Democracy

300,000 Reported at Demonstration

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HONG KONG, JULY 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A traditional rally marking the end of British rule in this former colony brought pleas for a new era of freedom.

«We have prayed for Hong Kong but also for democracy in China,» Father Michele Camastra, missionary with the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME), told AsiaNews today before joining other citizens in the rally.

Braving high temperatures and the threat of a typhoon, people poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands in order to show their dissatisfaction with the political line taken by mainland China and the Autonomous Territory’s governor, AsiaNews said.

The agency assembled the reactions of some PIME missionaries present at the peaceful rally.

Referring to Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, Father Giorgio Pasini said: «In his speech Bishop Zen reaffirmed that it is as just to demonstrate in favor of democracy as it is to celebrate the return of Hong Kong to the motherland.»

According to the priest, there were more than 300,000 people present at the rally.

«Our bishop once again condemned both the School Bill for penalizing Catholic schools and Beijing’s attempts to block any reform that would grant universal suffrage and permit the direct election to the post of governor of Hong Kong,» Father Pasini said.

«There are lots and lots of people,» said Father Camastra by phone. «I can see young people, older people, even people in wheelchairs, all of whom are braving the weather conditions just to take part in a demonstration that is so important for Hong Kong.»

He added: «There must be really important reasons if people are prepared for a second year in a row to take to the streets putting up with all sorts of discomfort just to protest when instead they could be in air-conditioned shopping centers or be at home resting. There is no one more deaf than someone who refuses to listen.»

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