09/28/2015, 00.00
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Hong Kong remembers the start of Occupy Central; for Card Zen, the struggle continues

by Victoria Ma
Thousands of people gathered at sites that symbolise the protest movement to commemorate the first anniversary of the first tear gas fire against demonstrators a year ago. Catholics mark the event with a Mass to ask the Lord for the strength to continue the struggle for democracy. They also express support for Christians in Wenzhou, victims of forced demolition of churches and crosses.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Crowds of Hong Kongers observed a 15-minute silence at 5.58 pm today, Sept. 28, at Admiralty, near the Central Government Offices, to reiterate their support for greater democracy in Hong Kong.

At the two-hour gathering, organized by a coalition of groups like the People’s Front and student organizations, everyone observed a silent moment to commemorate the moment that police fired the first rounds of tear gas bullets against protesters last year, which sparked the Occupy Central or Umbrella Movement, which lasted for 79 days, and led to the occupation of several locations in downtown Hong Kong.

The three founders of the Occupy Central Movement, Cardinal Joseph Zen, and pan-democratic councillors, student leaders were present at the silent moment.

Benny Tai, one of the founders, said that the Movement was a starting point and that Hong Kongers need to build more networks of democratic movement.

At present, it seemed that nothing has been achieved, but the whole generation has a different view toward democracy. Tai urged city residents not to give up the struggle.

Earlier in the day, about 200 Catholics and others took part in a Mass (pictured) to mark the first anniversary of the Umbrella Movement at the former occupied zone outside the Central Government Offices. Participants prayed for strength to continue the struggle for a real democracy and for those in the Umbrella Movement who suffered.

Father Franco Mella of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) led the Mass, assisted by Father Gianni Criveller, also of PIME.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, Protestant Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, another founder of the Occupy Central Movement, and Reverend Hans Lutz also attended the Mass.

On Sept. 28, 2014, Father Mella led the first Mass at the occupied zone in Admiralty, and continues to celebrate Mass at various occupied zones every Sunday with a Catholic group called the “Yellow Umbrella Christian Base Community”.

Cardinal Zen, in his homily, said that the Occupy Central Movement began last year on a Sunday. “Father Mella was here and celebrated the first Mass at the occupied zone here.”

“We were given a mission to struggle for justice in society,” Card Zen said. “We are fighting in this Movement for God, though we are powerless before superior forces.”

For the prelate, as believers, Christians have to bring peace to the society, but peace is built on justice and forgiveness.

Catholics prayed for real democracy in Hong Kong, that they might maintain their steadfastness in struggling for justice in the city.

They also prayed for those who suffered forced cross demolition in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province in mainland China.

Despite heavy police presence at the former occupied zone in Admiralty, thousands of residents reiterated their determination to struggle for democracy,.

Meanwhile, groups of people marched against the Umbrella Movement and called for prosecutions against the leaders of the movement.

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