The people of Hong Kong need prayer and solidarity

The people of Hong Kong need prayer and solidarity

As the world’s attention is on the many other crises and conflicts, we must not forget the need to stand in solidarity with and pray for the people of Hong Kong.

The people of Hong Kong need prayer and solidarity

Last week, Andy Li, a crucial witness in the high-profile trial of Jimmy Lai, stemming from the crackdown following Beijing’s imposition of the national security law in 2020, appeared in court in Hong Kong. Li, who alleges he was reportedly subjected to torture by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), took the stand amidst global attention on the case.

The UN Special Rapporteurs has called on the Hong Kong authorities to drop all charges against the outspoken Chinese Communist Party critic, a British citizen and a devout Catholic, Jimmy Lai in January.

Adding to the distress caused by current laws, the city is now pushing for an additional “Safeguarding National Security Law Bill” that would force priests to disclose confessions and criminalise possession of publications deemed “seditious”. No Catholic priest would be able to comply with such a law. Are global leaders still labelling these actions as mere “politics” and refusing to stand up for justice whilst calling out the CCP?

It would appear that freedom of religion in Hong Kong is in serious danger.

This proposed new bill goes beyond restricting basic freedoms. It allows authorities to detain individuals without cause for up to seven days and prevents arrestees from consulting lawyers of their choice.

It would appear that freedom of religion in Hong Kong is in serious danger, as highlighted in a comprehensive report, “Sell Out My Soul: The Impending Threats to Freedom of Religion or Belief in Hong Kong”, by Hong Kong Watch, which demonstrated many challenges the city is facing. Many senior church leaders in the city have been replaced with pro-CCP figures.

In the midst of legal proceedings, a pro-Beijing legislator and Christian Reverend Peter Koon have openly accused Apple Daily, the now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper, of being “seditious”. The newspaper and Lai stand trial while the presumption of innocence seems to have been discarded, even by a senior cleric.

The plight of the former British colony is often eclipsed by global crises such as COVID-19, the invasion of Ukraine, and the conflict in Israel-Gaza. Yes, Hong Kong hasn’t endured missile strikes. However, its people are forced to abandon their homes, leaving behind their entire lives to seek refuge in foreign lands. Over 120,000 have come to the UK. Many are faced with the heartbreaking decision of parting with loved ones, uncertain if they will ever reunite in person again.

Extending support to Hong Kong requires acknowledging its struggles and advocating for the rights of the Hong Kongers. It is time for global leaders to break their silence and stand up for justice, calling out the injustices faced by Hong Kong under Chinese rule.

In the realm of global leadership, those who fight for human rights and freedom are seen as moral leaders. They do not just focus on their own countries — they are committed to justice and freedom everywhere. Human rights, indeed, are indivisible and universal. Much like religion’s historic role in sparking social change, these leaders must use their platform to address injustices wherever they occur. By boldly condemning the situation in Hong Kong, they not only fulfil their moral obligation but also stand in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalised and show support for those who are suffering.

While prayers and actions pour in for Ukraine and Gaza, it is crucial to acknowledge the hardships endured by Hong Kongers under the CCP’s grip. Christians in the UK should stand in solidarity with those who have left Hong Kong by welcoming them into their communities. They should stand with those who have come to the UK as well as those who remain through prayer and by speaking out in ways that are appropriate and helpful in promoting the cause of religious freedom: it is important that the people from Hong Kong do not feel abandoned.

Photo: Protests in Hong Kong 2019″ by Charly Monsoon is marked with CC0 1.0.

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Author: Chloe Lo

Published: 18th March 2024

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© Catholic Social Thought 2020