Hong Kong Cardinal wants new Chinese stance on Tiananmen protests

By Ecumenical News International
June 4, 2009

Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun has urged China to change its stance on the crackdown 20 years ago against peaceful protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square - writes Francis Wong.

"I hope they really consider seriously the possibility of a reassessment of the verdict," the RTHK radio station reported the recently retired Roman Catholic bishop of Hong Kong as saying in a 1 June 2009 speech at the territory's Foreign Correspondents' Club.

Some reports have suggested that about 1000 people died in the crackdown on 4 June 1989 against protesters calling for more democracy and clean government. Beijing says that the official intervention was necessary because the protesters threatened the primacy of the Chinese Communist Party.

RHTK was reporting on 3 June that police and security forces in Beijing had stepped up controls among tourists on Tiananmen Square ahead of the anniversary. The radio station said human rights groups had estimated that about 30 people are still serving prison sentences for their activities in 1989, while hundreds of protest leaders remain in exile.

Separately a group attending a global prayer gathering in Hong Kong on 31 May unveiled a banner advocating prayers for the victims of the 1989 crackdown.

Thousands of Protestant Christians, including some practising senior government officials were attending the Global Day of Prayer gathering.

When the officials led the congregation in prayers for the government, the protesters unfurled two banners. One urged praying for the victims of the crackdown on 4 June 1989 and called for a church blessing for possible universal suffrage in Hong Kong in 2012. The other criticised what was described as a culture of hypocrisy within the church regarding Beijing.

The group was asked not to display the banners and they left after a while.

In a statement faxed to Christian media in Hong Kong, the protesting group lamented that leaders of the 1989 protests living in exile are prevented from returning home, while economic progress in China has failed to narrow a widening gap between rich and poor.

The organizers of the global prayer gathering later issued a statement regretting that "a political protest" had taken place during religious activity.

[With 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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