10/01/2018, 13.51
HONG KONG
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Catholics mark the fourth anniversary of Occupy Central

by Chao Mien

Four years after the movement that called for universal suffrage, disappointment reigns in the former British colony among the participants in the protests that ended in failure. Catholics gather to pray and denounce the worsening political situation.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Participants in the Occupy Central movement gathered last Friday to mark the fourth anniversary of the start of street protests on 28 September 2014 that paralysed central areas of the city.

Although frustrated by the lack of progress in their demand for more democracy, they are still confident that they must continue the battle.

Catholics in the former British colony – who played a crucial role in what was dubbed the "umbrella revolution" in favour of universal suffrage – also commemorated the anniversary with prayers, hoping to overcome what they call a “difficult political situation".

More than 3,000 people came together on Friday at the Admiralty, the hub of the protest movement four years ago, which failed because of Beijing's refusal to accept the protesters' demands.

At the same location, the Yellow Umbrella Christian Base Community, a Catholic-led group established during Occupy, held a Mass.

“People who participated the movement gathered once again in front of the Central Government Office of Hong Kong, to express our voice on democracy and justice,” said the organiser.

“The Communist authority in Beijing continues to violate many human rights given to the people in Hong Kong by the Basic Law,” he added, noting that the political situation in Hong Kong is getting worse.

Fr Franco Mella, of PIME, and Fr Stephen Chan, OFM, celebrated the Mass. Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun was among the approximately 50 Catholics who took part in the service.

“I have no regrets about participating in the Umbrella movement. I would do the same if I could choose again,” said Gregory Lo Cheuck-fung, 24, a young Catholic.

Lo was a member of the executive committee of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students, which was involved in the street protests.

“Maybe because of the Umbrella Movement, the Chinese Communist Party sped up its takeover of Hong Kong in the past four years. It is getting worse,” a disappointed Lo lamented.

Lo, who is a member of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Hong Kong (HKJP), is now a teacher. He is convinced of the importance of educating his students to the truth.

“It is very hard for me for me to teach the nonsense promoted by the government, like national education on the Chinese flag,” he said. However, "Students are my hope,” he goes on to say. “We have to keep proclaiming what we should say and do what we should do.”

For HKJP executive secretary Lina Chan, Hong Kong’s process of democratisation has not only stopped, but it has actually gone backward.

"The local government, with the help of the central authorities, has disqualified some elected lawmakers. The Legislative Council has adopted laws that are opposed by public opinion.”

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