08/14/2022 Hong Kong (International Christian Concern) – As of August 9, Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Court held a preliminary hearing to set a trial date for retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun. The trial will last five days, from September 19 to 23.
In May, the 90-year-old former Hong Kong archbishop, along with three other democracy activists, was arrested for affiliating with a now-disbanded organization, the “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund.” Defendants have been charged with ‘collusion’ with foreign forces – violating China’s National Security Law implemented in Hong Kong.
The organization was known to cover the legal and medical costs of protesters involved in the 2019 Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. The government accused the organization of violence and improper registration with the state; if found guilty, each defendant of the case could incur a fine of approximately $1300.
According to AsiaNews, the defendants “have pleaded not guilty [while] their lawyers [are] challenging the claim that the charity was required to register under the Societies Ordinance.”
The Societies Ordinance requires all organizations in Hong Kong to register with the state to operate legally. Since 2018, officials have banned many pro-democracy organizations under the ordinance.
Lawyers of the accused have also argued for the right of citizens to freely associate with organizations in Hong Kong, as stipulated in the country’s national law.
Cardinal Zen is a staunch advocate of religious freedom and democracy. A native of Shanghai, he often calls for democracy and criticizes China for its oppression of Chinese people — especially those from the underground Catholic community.
Please pray for justice for Cardinal Zen as he awaits his upcoming trial.
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