Posted in Editorial

Does Hong Kong have a way out of the jinx?

A COMMUNITY OF mice became terrified when they were told that, in future, a cat…

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Hong Kong government urged to stop arrests
Protestors in black fill all the lanes of Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, during the massive annual July 1 protest rally in 2019.

HONG KONG (SE): The diocesan Justice and Peace Commission issued a statement on April 18 demanding the Hong Kong government to Read more

Tens of thousands march to protest against extradition bill
Participants during the rally, many holding yellow umbrellas, packed two lanes of Hennessy Road. The last of the long line of marchers reached Admiralty at around 7.45pm.

HONG KONG (SE): Around 130,000 people joined a rally on April 28, organised by the  Civil Human Rights Front, to Read more

Rights groups protest arrest of Hong Kong democracy advocates

HONG KONG (UCAN): Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), reiterated its determination to work for democracy after police arrested Read more

Cleaners ill equipped to clear up tear gas residue survey finds
The Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs released a survey report on the protection of outsourced workers assigned to remove tear gas residue during a press conference on January 16.

HONG KONG (SE): The Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs pointed out in a survey that the majority of street cleaners Read more

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Posted in Hong Kong

Solve fundamental issues to end protests Bishop Ha urges

HONG KONG (UCAN): “If the fundamental problem is not solved, people will just continue to…

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Hong Kong government urged to stop arrests
Protestors in black fill all the lanes of Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, during the massive annual July 1 protest rally in 2019.

HONG KONG (SE): The diocesan Justice and Peace Commission issued a statement on April 18 demanding the Hong Kong government to Read more

More calls for commission of inquiry and end to police brutality in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (UCAN): In an open letter to Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, leading Catholics joined a call from Read more

Hong Kong’s social workers in peaceful three-day strike
Social workers gather at Edinburgh Place, Central, on December 17. Photo: UCAN/provided

HONG KONG (UCAN): People working in the social welfare sector of Hong Kong joined a three-day strike beginning December 17 Read more

Protests reflect world frustration with inequality and corruption
From Chile to Haiti to Hong Kong, protests appear to be sweeping the globe. Although sparked by different events, they also reflect a common frustration with economic inequality and corrupt governments, experts say. “We seem to be in the midst of people-power movements around the world,” said Maria Stephan, director of the nonviolent action program at the United States (US) Institute of Peace. “People are protesting for a variety of causes,” but some of the underlying reasons for discontent are similar, she said. One is the growing gap between the wealthiest and poorest people. “We’re in an era of peak global inequality” in which people feel “distrustful of systems that seem to be leaving them behind,” Stephan said. Another trend she calls troubling is a return to authoritarian governments in various countries. “There is a link between the backsliding of democracy and the inclination of people to take to the street and not trust as much in traditional processes and institutions,” she said. Those street demonstrations are largely organised through social media, giving them a spontaneous feel, although they often build on years of organisation and previous protest. Nevertheless, there is “a difference between quick mobilisation and sustained organisation,” she said. “It will be interesting to see whether these spontaneous protests are able to establish legs and maintain longevity and bring about reforms.” In Hong Kong, a massive demonstration on December 8 drew hundreds of thousands of people, giving ongoing unrest there new vigour. Protests erupted in June, after the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government tried to force though a bill that would have allowed extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, among other places. John Cardinal Tong Hon, the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Hong Kong, was among those who called for the measure to be withdrawn. The government dropped the proposal in September, but demonstrations continued. Demands have expanded to include universal suffrage, amnesty for arrested protesters and an independent commission of inquiry. Widespread protests are new in Hong Kong, dating back only to about 2013, Maggie Shum, a research associate in the Keough School of Global Affairs at Notre Dame University, said. When Shum, who is from Hong Kong, visited the city in June and July, as the protests were gaining steam, many of those participating seemed new to street demonstrations, she said. She said that people are frustrated because Hong Kong’s electoral system does not give them a real voice in political decisions, resulting in political polarisation and a loss of trust in government. “Thinking long term, I am worried in a way about how this experience will change the next generation,” she said. At the same time, the upheaval, which the media often paint as a David-vs-Goliath struggle between the protesters and a monolithic Chinese government, may benefit groups that suffer repression in China, but lack the international spotlight made possible by Internet access. It was “never the goal for Hong Kong to be a pioneer, but it’s powerful in a sense,” Shum said. “Hong Kong is more visible (and) people are trying to use this position to raise issues of other voiceless, marginalised groups,” such as human rights activists and China’s Uyghur Muslims. Unlike Hong Kong, where the major issues are political, protesters in Latin America are calling for both political and economic reforms. That may partly reflect worries that an economic downturn in the region could send families sliding back into poverty. The region’s poverty rate has dropped dramatically in this century, from 45.4 per cent in 2002 to 27.8 per cent in 2014. But it began creeping upward again in 2015 and now stands at 30.8 per cent, according to a new report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The extreme poverty rate has also inched upward, from 7.8 per cent in 2014 to 11.5 per cent now. Protests that began in Nicaragua in April over the pension system have expanded to include demands for greater democracy and calls for the president, Daniel Ortega, to resign. In long-running protests in Venezuela, opposition demonstrators are pressing for strongman, Nicolas Maduro, to step down. Violent protests that broke out in Bolivia over accusations of election fraud caused its president, Evo Morales, who had claimed victory in a controversial re-election bid, to flee to Mexico. Other officials in the line of succession resigned, sowing confusion that has underscored the country’s political polarisation. In Ecuador, the elimination of fuel subsidies as part of an economic adjustment deal with the International Monetary Fund sparked protests in October that forced the government to backpedal. Ongoing protests in Chile were touched off in early October by a transit fare hike, but they expanded to include demands for more equitable health care and education, as well as increases in the minimum wage and education. The government of the president, Sebastian Pinera, made some concessions and agreed to hold a referendum in April 2020 on whether to rewrite the constitution. In the streets, however, security forces cracked down sharply with tactics reminiscent of the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. New government policies in support of such measures are cause for concern, sociologist Cristian Montenegro of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, said. Colombians took to the streets in late November to protest plans to cut labour benefits and pensions, but the demonstrations also reflect discontent with the president, Ivan Duque, and concerns over a resurgence in violence. In the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, protests that have roiled urban areas since November are subsiding, but many parents still feel it is not safe to send their children to school, Christopher Bessey, Haiti country director for Catholic Relief Services, said. Protests began in mid-2018, when the government eliminated fuel subsidies, sending gas prices soaring. That was followed by indignation over a corruption scandal involving reduced-price oil from Venezuela, in which the funds saved, which were to be invested in social services, disappeared. Demonstrators began calling for the resignation of the president, Jovenel Moise. As protests escalated, demonstrators set up roadblocks, bringing transport to a standstill, Bessey recounted. Workers could not get to their jobs, farmers were unable to send products to urban markets and sick Haitians could not reach hospitals. “The people who are really suffering in this are not the politicians, not the business community, it’s the people on the margins and the people who are dependent on a functioning economy for the few who do have work,” Bessey said. Although the situation has been calmer in recent days, protests could flare again in early 2020, when elections are scheduled. Demonstrations sweeping the Middle East echo a wave of protests in 2011 that raised hopes for more responsive governments. Those expectations were never fully satisfied, however, and the protests against corrupt leaders and economic inequality have flared again. Protests have forced the prime ministers of Lebanon and Iraq out of office. Egypt saw a month of protests, beginning in mid-September, when a defense contractor living in exile accused the president, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and people close to him of corruption. Security forces arrested nearly 3,000 people during the demonstrations, which also reflected frustration with an economic recovery that was not trickling down, experts say. In Iraq, the largest protests since dictator, Saddam Hussein, was ousted in 2003 began in early October over corruption, poor public services and a lack of jobs. Security forces responded with tear gas and live ammunition, leaving more than 300 people dead and at least 8,000 injured, according to human rights groups. As the demonstrations continued, the protesters began to demand an overhaul of the country’s political system. Observers say Iranian infiltration of the protests has complicated the situation, because Iran, a close ally of the Iraqi government, has an interest in quashing the protests. Meanwhile, the Iranian government has cracked down on protesters demonstrating over rising fuel prices, which are related to tightening US sanctions against the country. Pope Francis has called for dialogue in Iraq and expressed sorrow for the deaths of protesters there. “I was saddened to learn that the protests in recent days have been dealt with harshly, leading to the death of dozens of victims,” he said during the Angelus prayer December 1. In Lebanon, tax measures set off protests in mid-October, with demonstrators also decrying corrupt government and calling for political and economic reforms. Nearly two weeks later, the prime minister, Saad Hariri, announced his resignation. Women in Lebanon have also seized the moment to protest sexual violence, from harassment to assault. That is part of another protest trend that is spreading around the world, reflected in a massive street performance that began in Chile with a chant called “the rapist in your path.” Groups of women have gathered to repeat it in countries around Latin America and Europe. The street performance, the brainchild of a Chilean feminist collective, struck a chord in Latin America, where more than 3,500 women were murdered last year, many by a current or former husband or boyfriend. Throughout Latin America, street protests reflect “a sense that structural changes are needed,” Montenegro said. Although the process will be slow, he added, “a seed is being planted that will continue to grow.” CNS

From Chile to Haiti to Hong Kong, protests appear to be sweeping the globe. Although sparked by different events, they Read more

Appeals for restraint as protest violence spreads to university campuses
Bishop Ha and others attempting to negotiate with the police as they seek to enter the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in the early hours of November 18. Photo: Justice and Peace Commission

HONG KONG (SE): At the time of going to press, some 100 die-hard protesters still held out at the battered Read more

Urgent Appeal from the Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders of Hong Kong on the rapid escalation of confrontation at Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The charred remains of a van which had been commandeered by protesters and set alight on November 15, used as a barricade on No 2 Bridge, leading to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, on November 16.

We, the Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders of Hong Kong, issued a joint statement on 13 November 2019, called to Read more

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Protestors in black fill all the lanes of Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, during the massive annual July 1 protest rally in 2019.
Posted in Hong Kong

Hong Kong government urged to stop arrests

HONG KONG (SE): The diocesan Justice and Peace Commission issued a statement on April 18 demanding…

Related articles
Tens of thousands march to protest against extradition bill
Participants during the rally, many holding yellow umbrellas, packed two lanes of Hennessy Road. The last of the long line of marchers reached Admiralty at around 7.45pm.

HONG KONG (SE): Around 130,000 people joined a rally on April 28, organised by the  Civil Human Rights Front, to Read more

Rights groups protest arrest of Hong Kong democracy advocates

HONG KONG (UCAN): Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), reiterated its determination to work for democracy after police arrested Read more

Cleaners ill equipped to clear up tear gas residue survey finds
The Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs released a survey report on the protection of outsourced workers assigned to remove tear gas residue during a press conference on January 16.

HONG KONG (SE): The Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs pointed out in a survey that the majority of street cleaners Read more

Read more...
Posted in Hong Kong

Rights groups protest arrest of Hong Kong democracy advocates

HONG KONG (UCAN): Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), reiterated its determination to work…

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A place to rest first and talk later
Criselda Guetang shares about her stress during the pandemic.

HONG KONG (SE): “But for the pandemic, it would not have ended up like this. But I believe my employer Read more

The Church in the Philippines soothes pains of pandemic
Photo: Father Larry V. Miranda CMF

Recent years have not been easy for the Philippines owing to numerous disasters and natural calamities. The past decade witnessed Read more

Alarm over vague Philippine anti-terrorism bill
Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Philippine Congress in Manila 22 July 2019. Photo: CNS/Reuters

MANILA (UCAN): “This government is criminalising dissent, further suppressing criticism, while at the same time evading accountability in the guise Read more

Make every effort to protect against child labour pope urges
Pope Francis holds a pamphlet for the Red Card to Child Labour campaign during his June 11 general audience in St. Peter's Square The words on the pamphlet in Italian say: "All together against child labour." Photo: CNS

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the victims of child labour during his general audience on June 10, Vatican Read more

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The Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs released a survey report on the protection of outsourced workers assigned to remove tear gas residue during a press conference on January 16.
Posted in Hong Kong

Cleaners ill equipped to clear up tear gas residue survey finds

HONG KONG (SE): The Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs pointed out in a survey that…

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Solve fundamental issues to end protests Bishop Ha urges

Bishop Ha thanking frontliners in the fight against Covid-19 via a video message. Photo: Screenshot/The Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage Read more

Hong Kong government urged to stop arrests
Protestors in black fill all the lanes of Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, during the massive annual July 1 protest rally in 2019.

HONG KONG (SE): The diocesan Justice and Peace Commission issued a statement on April 18 demanding the Hong Kong government to Read more

Rights groups protest arrest of Hong Kong democracy advocates

HONG KONG (UCAN): Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), reiterated its determination to work for democracy after police arrested Read more

Read more...