CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A call for non-violent resistance

HONG KONG (SE): The Church must display non-violent resistance towards the unjust policies of the government of Hong Kong as a witness to the power public opinion can have in society, as it can serve as a wakeup call to the sleeping consciences of those who normally sit on the sidelines of social issues.

A forum sponsored by the Justice and Peace Commission, the Commission for Labour Affairs and Christians for Hong Kong Society held at Newman College in Yaumatei on March 10, focussed on how to create mutual trust in society in the context of  the stoush that took place between police and a violent mob in Mong Kok on February 8 that astounded the city.

Around 200 people listened to Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing reflect on the non-violent witness given by Jesus in his opposition to the injustice of the government of his day.

The auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong said that it is only by standing up against injustice in a non-violent manner that the truth of the immorality of certain policies and practices can be highlighted in such a manner that all can see.

He explained that it is not a matter of usurping the high moral ground, but by truly possessing it that the support of the majority of the people can be inspired.

He said that it is essential to keep a sharp focus on the truth that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, with a basic virtue and beauty. “This is a basic concept of our faith,” he said. “So even though there may be no sign of hope at present, we have to believe that people can change.”

Bishop Ha stressed that he believes it is absolutely essential that an independent investigation be commissioned by the government into the root causes of the stoush in the streets of Mongkok, as hiding behind a curtain of ignorance will only inflame matters further.

Reverend Yuen Tin-yau, from the Methodist Church, emphasised the need for reconciliation and mutual trust at the March 10 gathering. 

He said that in a society that is severed and factionalised, justice can only be achieved by real reconciliation.

However, he added that he believes Hong Kong faces a long road to reconciliation and achieving mutual trust, but in that process all parties in society must act cautiously to avoid fanning the flames of further conflict or aggravating the already unjust situation.

He also cautioned against any action that can irritate an already tense situation and called for an approach that promotes smoother relations.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, pointed out that there is a tendency for people to resist when things get really tough and that in his opinion, the current policies espoused by the government are not addressing this, as vested interests are refusing to budge.

He observed that previous forms of resistance employed by people may not be working, which is prompting them to resort to violence in order to put pressure on the government.

Tai also noted that the jump from the Umbrella Movement, which occupied the streets of the city for 79 days in 2014, to the stoush in Mong Kok at the Lunar New Year reflects that social movements are undergoing a reformation.

Nevertheless, he believes that the principle of seeking truth and justice remains unchanged.

In an interview with the Chinese language Kung Ka Pao on March 11, Bishop Ha said that his own personal belief is that the conflict in Mongkok was sparked by deep-seated social problems and that simply blaming one party or another does not shed any light on the real situation.

He added that the Justice and Peace Commission will present a petition related to the matter after Easter.

Tsang Sing-cheung shared that being at the melee was not a simple experience.

He said that when tempers began to flare and the gathering began to show signs of becoming violent, he tried to calm people down and stop the situation from getting out of hand.

Tsang added that he was worried that people living in the neighbourhood may get injured if tensions rose to fever pitch and he was also concerned that property may be damaged.

However, his experience left him feeling useless and helpless, because he could see that he was not able to achieve anything positive and ultimately things escalated beyond anyone’s control.

 

He admitted that in the end he felt guilty about his lack of action and not being able to achieve anything.

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