Christians encouraged to join struggle for Hong Kong democracy

By Ecumenical News International
June 28, 2007

A Christian coalition in Hong Kong has called on people of faith to take to the streets to lobby for universal suffrage as the territory prepares to mark its 10th anniversary as a Special Administrative Region of China - writes Francis Wong.

"In view of political development, we haven't made any progress. We don't know when there will be universal suffrage. The election of the Hong Kong Chief Executive is only the game of a 800-member election committee, nothing to do with the public," Grace Lam, executive secretary of the Christians for Hong Kong Society told journalists last week

"As Christians, we need to fight for a just and democratic political system," Lam said.

Britain returned its former colony of Hong Kong to Chinese rule on 1 July 1997.

A policy of "One Country, Two Systems" was brokered for Hong Kong's first 50 years after the departure of the British in order to allow the new administrative region of China to have its own non-communist system.

However, Hong Kong advocates of a more democratic society have pointed out that the system does not make provision for the leaders of the territory to be elected by universal suffrage.

"The 800-member election committee was inclined to its interest holders - businessmen and professionals - and not for the citizen," said Teresa Yip, programme secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese.

The Christians for Hong Kong Society includes the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs and ecumenical bodies such as the Student Christian Movement and the Hong Kong Women's Christian Council.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong has also encouraged Catholics to join the protests. "It has been 10 years since reunification. The situation of marginalised people has not improved but is deteriorating," Cardinal Zen told journalists. "We need to express our desire clearly: to have universal suffrage as soon as possible," the cardinal said.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Hong Kong's 6.9 million population.

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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