CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Liu Xiaobo remembered as Liu Xia off to ‘new life’

HONG KONG (SE): About 200 local Catholics expressed their respect and tribute for the late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, on July 11, two days before the first anniversary of his death, at a Mass held at St. John the Baptist Church, Kwun Tong. 
Liu died of liver cancer on 13 July 2017 at the age of 61, when serving a sentence of 11 years’ imprisonment. He was formally charged on “inciting subversion of state power”.
Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, and was represented at the ceremony in Oslo by an empty chair. 
On July 10, his widowed wife Liu Xia was allowed by Beijing to leave China for Germany “to start a new life," as described by her brother who was not able to accompany her. 
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-sing of Hong Kong who celebrated the Mass at the Kwun Tong parish told the faithful not to feel disappointed while learning about the persecutions, as God has promised the fruits of justice and happiness as indicated in the Beatitude, the Gospel chosen for the Mass. 
Father Timothy Wan Kwok-kwong of the parish concelebrated the Mass with a theme “Peacemaking and upholding justice” and prayed for Liu Xia and numerous human rights lawyers in China, who suffered as they defended the needy on rights issues. 
Two readings, one from Liu Xiaobo’s writing titled I have no enemies: My final statement and another from an article by Li Wenzu, the wife of a missing lawyer Wang Quanzhang, one of the rights lawyers arrested in 2005, were read at the beginning of the Mass. 
The police had arrested Wang and dozens of other activists and lawyers on 9 July 2015 in a crackdown against the so-called “709 group” on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”.
Referring to Liu Xiaobo’s writing, Bishop Ha said in his homily that it was amazing to hear about how Liu was “optimistically waiting” and his “looking forward to the advent of a future free China”. 
The bishop said he was impressed by Liu’s firm belief that China’s political progress will not stop even though he faced political persecutions and imprisonment.
The faithful remembered the crackdown on rights’ lawyers in China in 2015, in which the lawyers who fought for justice for the needy were imprisoned or had to confess their “wrong-doings” on state TV. 
The faithful prayed for the perseverance in efforts on peacemaking, and that the activists themselves may have a chance to see the fruits of their struggles. 
The gathering also prayed for the reunion of separated families and for the courage of China and Hong Kong people to move towards a society with greater tolerance, democracy, freedom and rule of law.
The Mass, organised by the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission and the Social Concern Group of the St. John the Baptist Parish, prayed for the grace to have the spirit of Liu Xiaobo be instilled in the hearts of the people.
On July 13, the first anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s death, hundreds of people gathered at Tamar Park, Admiralty, to remember him. A moment of silence was observed and flowers were laid in front of a statue of Liu. 
The event organiser, the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, said even though Liu Xia is now free, it does not mean Beijing has changed its hard-line approach towards human rights activists.
Meanwhile, on July 11, a heavy sentence of 13 years was given to another Chinese dissident Qin Yongmin, 64. The news was made known on July 11. Qin has already been jailed for about 20 years before.  
  Annie Lam
Holy Spirit Study Centre

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