Hong Kong Catholics call for calm

Over 1,000 Catholics marched through central Hong Kong by candlelight last Thursday night to call for calm and a break from hostilities in the recent political crisis that has seen thousands of protesters clash with police.

The vigil was organised by the Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Diocese, Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students, Diocesan Youth Commission and St. Benedict Parish’s social concerns group.

The marchers urged the government to heed protesters’ key demands.

“In the last two months, the city has been in turmoil.

“We should have a cooling-off period and a ceasefire of at least two or three months, for both sides to sit down and come to an agreement to move society forward,” Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing told the protesters.

Hong Kong has suffered months of street protests opposing the now-abandoned extradition bill.

This bill would have allowed criminal suspects to be transferred to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong city has no formal arrangement.

Ha repeated the protesters’ demands: for the bill to be fully withdrawn and for an inquiry into the police’s handling of the unrest and accountability by the Hong Kong Legislative Council and chief executive.

“Violence will only create more violence. Hatred will only produce more hatred. Injustice will never achieve justice. History will prove that only peace and reason can establish a long-term peace,” he said.

The bishop pointed out that the root cause of the demonstrations lay with the Hong Kong government, which, he said, had no excuse for its actions.

Meanwhile, keeping the peace was something of a “mission impossible” for police, he said, because the current problems were rooted in politics, not security.

The church has been among the bill’s opponents for months.

Resisting Ha’s demands, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor simply said “the bill is dead”.

She said any complaints against the police should go through established bodies like the Independent Police Complaints Council.

Lina Chan, executive secretary of the diocesan peace commission, said the levels of violence by police and resistance by the protesters were increasing.

The church is therefore stressing that protesters use nonviolent principles in their demonstrations, she said.

“When we are reaffirming the importance of peace, we should base that on justice,” Chan said.

“We need to bring the truth into the light; this is what can lead us to a true reconciliation.”

In her opinion, an independent investigation committee could help relieve current tensions.

“To have such a committee can help avoid similar things happening again.”


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