Priest launches protest outside Hong Kong prison against activist detention


Hong Kong — Catholic priests launched a three-day protest in the heat of the heat outside Hong Kong’s largest security prison on Thursday, among activists and democratic politicians detained under drastic national security law. Requested release.

Milan-born missionary Franco Mela, a longtime rights activist in a Chinese-controlled city, vowed to refuse food because she stood on the wall of a dam overlooking Shekpic Prison in an isolated area of ​​Lantau Island, Hong Kong. rice field.

A 74-year-old woman who participated in a major anti-democratic movement in 2019 that shook the world’s financial hubs said Hong Kong people were “more confident in the future” if authorities released detained activists. I told the group.

“The weather is very hot, so they are suffering internally. And the message we are with you, don’t lose hope. Let’s keep fighting for everyone’s freedom.”

Mela promised not to eat during the entire period of action. Temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Celsius) made the challenge even more difficult.

The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Approximately 200 people have been arrested under national security law since China imposed it on the former British colony in June 2020 to alleviate 2019 anxiety. Demonstrations have been small and rare since the law came into force. This is partly due to the government’s restrictions on public meetings by COVID-19.

International critics, including some governments, have warned that the law is being used to effectively silence opposition politicians, civil society, and some media groups, but with China. Hong Kong officials have repeatedly stated that law is needed to restore stability after a few months-violent demonstrations.

In response to Reuters’ question on Thursday, a Hong Kong government spokesman said all law enforcement measures were evidence-based and legally implemented.

“It would be against the rule of law to suggest that people with a particular background may be beyond the law,” a spokesman said.

On Monday, Hong Kong’s top US diplomat warned that the “crude and chilling” use of the law threatened Hong Kong’s long-standing role as a financial center.

National security arrests accused by Washington include the arrest of another important Catholic figure in Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, 90.

Mela publicly petitioned then-Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam in January to pardon media tycoon Jimmy Lai and other political activists in prison or detention. He was one of the representatives.

By Joyce Zhou