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US Catholic university honors Hong Kong activist Jimmy Lai

Imprisoned media tycoon faces a series of charges for supporting pro-democracy movement in former British colony
US Catholic university honors Hong Kong activist Jimmy Lai

Catholic media tycoon Jimmy Lai was jailed for 14 months on April 16 over one of Hong Kong's biggest-ever pro-democracy protests in 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 16, 2022 06:17 AM GMT
Updated: May 16, 2022 06:24 AM GMT

The Catholic University of America has conferred an honorary degree on Hong Kong’s jailed Catholic media tycoon, philanthropist, and pro-democracy supporter Jimmy Lai.

The Washington-based institute bestowed the honor on Lai on May 14 during its first commencement ceremony for nearly 1,500 graduates since 2019, according to a report on its website.

Lai’s son, Sebastian Lai, accepted the degree on behalf of his jailed father.

“It really means a lot to have the support of all these great people,” Sebastian Lai said during an interview with the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) on May 12, following the announcement of the honorary degree for Lai.

“I’m sure he’ll be very happy to receive this award, and I’m sure knowing that all these people are praying for him and knowing that all these people have the same thoughts towards freedom and freedom of religion, freedom of expression, will make him incredibly happy," he added.

The honor for Lai comes only days after Hong Kong’s national security police arrested and later released outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong on a charge of “collusion with foreign forces” under a draconian national security law on May 11.

Cardinal Zen baptized Lai in 1997 and since then they have collaborated with each other in their struggle for freedom, human rights, and democracy in Hong Kong, defying Beijing’s ever-increasing grip on the former British colony.

Lai, 74, was born in Canton (Guangzhou) in China, in 1947. He moved to Hong Kong when he was 12 and worked in a garment factory as a child laborer.

He made his fortune through the mid-market fashion chain, Giordano and then through Next Media, the parent company of the now-defunct popular pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily.

Amid the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong since 2019, Lai was arrested and released several times, but he has remained in jail since April 2021. He faces a slew of charges, including sedition, incitement, fraud, and collusion with foreign forces under the national security law that Beijing imposed last year.

Apple Daily was forced to shut down last year following police raids. They also led to the arrests of editors and staff and the freezing of the publication's bank accounts by Hong Kong’s administration under pro-Beijing Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, a Catholic.

On April 16, 2021, Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 14 months in jail along with eight activists for participating in an unauthorized gathering in June 2020 to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.

Before his sentence, Lai told the BBC that even if he were to be imprisoned, he would still be "living my life meaningfully."

"I came here with one dollar. I got everything I have because of this place. If this is the payback time, this is my redemption," Lai said.

Prominent Christian leaders from across the world have expressed concerns over the harassment of Jimmy Lai and called for his release from prison.

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2 Comments on this Story
JSS
Big hero of china!
DAN MOREAU
Please share this with the Hong Kong Catholics: http://holyfacedevotion.com/revelations.htm ...This was the first revelation from heaven concerning Communism. Our Lord said that this devotion would defeat it. It is, therefore, the sister-devotion to the Fatima devotion--necessary to save the world. (There are many knowledgeable people who say that the present "collapse" of Communism is a deception, and that these devotions are needed now more than ever before.)
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