Hong Kong rallies continue ahead of China's National Day

Pro-democracy protesters defy police order, cardinal urges them to keep the faith
Hong Kong rallies continue ahead of China's National Day

An estimated 300,000 people gather at Tamar Park Sept. 28 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement. (ucanews.com photo)

Protests continued unabated in Hong Kong, despite warnings from the authorities ahead of the 70th anniversary of China’s National Day.

About 300,000 people attended a demonstration held Sept. 28 by the Civil Human Rights Front on the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement, a 79-day civil disobedience pro-democracy movement. 

Police threatened to break up the rally forcefully so organizers cut it short by 30 minutes as officers stood by.

The Yellow Umbrella Christian Base Community, a lay Catholic movement, also held an anniversary Mass before the assembly.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, gave a homily during the Mass, which was also attended by another outspoken priest, Franciscan friar Father Stephen Chan, and more than 200 faithful.

The cardinal, 88, criticized the government for trying to sidetrack the movement by deeming it a political problem. “In 2014, at the last period of the umbrella movement, it was so romantic to walk along the occupied area at night with peace, but that was a strategy of the government to put off the movement and weaken it. They are now doing the same,” he said.

Cardinal Joseph Zen gave a homily during the Mass (ucanews.com photo)

Cardinal Zen also urged the faithful to have confidence, refrain from doing anything that could inflame the situation.

A local Catholic who also attended the Umbrella Movement five years ago, said he was saddened by Hong Kong’s deteriorating situation.

“Although the Sino–British Joint Declaration promised Hong Kong people that our social system would not change for 50 years, the Chinese government is already encroaching on the core values of this city,” he said.

He believed the only solution to the current problems was for the authorities to allow Hong Kong people to have democratic rights and stop trying to make it like China’s mainland cities.

“The Communist Party is still prosecuting our brother Church in China,” he continued. “I don’t know why our church leaders are staying silent on both Hong Kong and the mainland.”

Meanwhile, global anti-totalitarianism rallies were held Sept. 29 in 63 cities and 23 countries, including Australia, France, the United Kingdom and United States.

More arrests and injuries

Although the main demonstration in Hong Kong did not receive a letter of no objection from police thousands of Hong Kong people still went out to walk along the route and repeat their five pro-democracy demands.

Protesters told ucanews.com that the police reacted by firing tear gas and attacking them indiscriminately.

One Indonesian journalist was shot and hit by a rubber bullet, suffering an eye injury, while police altogether made more than 100 arrests.

The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, which is located near the protest route, opened to help protesters in need and several medical practitioners were on stand-by to nurse the wounded.

A parishioner who witnessed the ugly clashes posted on his Facebook page: “Our church has today become a battlefield hospital. The police are cruel and inhuman!”

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