CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Thousands pray for Tiananmen Massacre victims

HONG KONG (SE): Over 1,000 people came together on June 4 at the music kiosk of Victoria Park for a prayer service for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing 30 years ago. The gathering was organised by the Union of Hong Kong Catholic Organisations in support of the Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China.
 
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing of Hong Kong, said the victims of the massacre will always be remembered even though 30 years have passed, because they showed the beautiful side of human nature. 
 
He said he admired the Beijing students for believing in hope while in darkness, fighting in peace in the face of violence and selflessly sacrificing their lives for the sake of justice.
 
In response to the theme of the prayer meeting “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8), Bishop Ha urged those present to think about how much they are willing to sacrifice for justice and other beautiful human values at the time when the proposed extradition law amendment is threatening our freedom.
 
Biddy Kwok Tsui-yi, the chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission, shared her strong belief that people should work together to demand vindication of the June 4 massacre, because a government that does not admit to such an enormous mistake is unlikely to uphold justice or improve the human rights situation in the country.
 
Kwok later told the Sunday Examiner that even though it may take decades, it is a must not only for the sake of a correct historical record, but also for paving the way for further justice policies. She said vindication can also exonerate those convicted for supporting the democratic movement and allow them to discard the criminal labels that have prevented them from leading a decent life.
 
Participants also prayed for religious freedom in China, the development of democracy worldwide and the people who sacrificed their lives for democracy as well as the change of heart of the leaders in Beijing.
 
The prayer service ended with a blessing and commissioning prayer led by Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong, who said that while the students killed in the June 4 crackdown are now martyrs in heaven, people on earth should keep working and bear witness to justice.
 
Joseph Chor, a participant, said he needed to join the gathering while there is still freedom to publicly mourn the victims. He said while pro-Beijing people claimed that the democratic movement in 1989 was a riot, his memory of their peaceful protest demanding reform and the elimination of corruption will not fade. 
 
Chor said he appreciated the courage of the Catholic Church in hold the prayer service every year, which is in line with the Catholic social teaching encouraging people to speak up against injustice or dictatorship.

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