06/05/2004, 00.00
Hong Kong - China
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Basic Law interpretation was our own June 4, says bishop

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/SCMP) - The head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong yesterday urged its members to fight against those who breached the "one country, two systems" principle and threatened freedom of speech.

Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun was speaking to more than 800 Catholics taking part in a prayer meeting to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown. The meeting was held in Victoria Park before last night's vigil.

He said Hong Kong had experienced its very own "June 4" this year, when hopes for full democracy in 2007-2008 were shattered by the National People's Congress Standing Committee's interpretation of the Basic Law in April.

"The June 4 we experienced did not shed any blood, there were neither tanks nor machine guns. But in their fierce shape, the so-called 'guardians of the Basic Law' came to lecture us about patriotism, and certain [Beijing officials] claimed some people wanted to achieve independence [for Hong Kong]," the bishop said.

"Before we had a chance to discuss the issues surrounding universal suffrage in 2007-2008, the committee had already made a decision for us."

The religious leader was making his second appearance at the annual candle-light vigil. "The authoritarians massacred our patriotic youngsters. How can we not fight for their vindication? Some people have breached the 'one country, two systems' principle one-sidedly by interpreting the Basic Law. How can we not stand up and say 'no'?" he said.

He also showed his support for the July 1 march on the anniversary of the handover. "Marching makes people feel more comfortable because it allows them to channel their emotions. It will be more chaotic if you don't let people protest."

Bishop Zen said it had become increasingly obvious democracy and freedom in Hong Kong were not to be taken for granted. He described some of the people who persuaded the public to be more tolerant and to cherish peace as "culprits" and "helpers of the culprits". "We should pay no heed to them because peace without justice can only be the illusion of peace."


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