CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Church condemns Yuen Long violence

HONG KONG (SE): The Diocese of Hong Kong as well as the Justice and Peace Commission issued statements on July 22 seriously condemning the violence that occurred in Yuen Long on the night of July 21.
“We are greatly aggrieved by the outbreak of violent assault at our citizens at the Yuen Long MTR Station,” said the statement of the diocese.
“We condemn violence of any nature and means, and earnestly hope that the offenders will be arrested and brought to justice.  We also pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” it said.
The Justice and Peace Commission said in its statement that it was shocked to see dozens of white-clad attackers indiscriminately assaulting people with iron rods, bamboo sticks and other weapons inside the Yuen Long MTR station and nearby areas, injuring many including a pregnant woman. The commission severely denounced such acts of violence.
It said that the police could not absolve itself for ignoring the safety of people as a team of riot police arrived long after the attack started even though many people had already called the emergency hotline 999 for help. 
The police were afterwards accused of colluding with triads in permitting the violence to happen. The statement said that such doubts were reasonable considering their apparent negligence made it possible for Yuen Long to be thrown into a state of lawlessness.
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, in an interview with Boiling Point, a youth online forum, urged people to pray for Hong Kong, the injured as well as the attackers as they have been bound and engulfed by hatred. He also urged people to pray for the government as well as the police, as we can face the present crisis only with a great amount of love.
According to the Kung Kao Po, a diocesan staff member Galileo Cheng Lok-hang was assaulted and injured by the mob when he got off from the station at Yuen Long. He was on his way home from Central. He started live-streaming the melée and tried to help a journalist in distress, but came under assault by around four to five men armed with umbrellas and iron rods. He was injured in the face, arms and the back and required stitches.
At least 45 people were injured during the violent rampage at Yuen Long, including ordinary passengers and passersby, journalists and a legislator, Lam Cheuk-ting, who also live-streamed the ordeal on Facebook. 
By the time 20 police officers arrived at the station at 11:30pm with their protective riot gear the mob had left. The police then stayed at the station and made no arrests that day. Residents were furious over their slow response and accused them of letting the violence run wild on purpose. 
It is believed that the mob were targeting any protesters who would have been returning from the rally on Hong Kong island, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, demanding the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill. Around 430,000 people were at the rally according to the organiser. It was supposed to finish at Luard Road, Wanchai.
However, many protestors, who began the march at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, continued to occupy main roads in Wanchai, Central and Sheung Wan, with some gathering outside the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Western District at around 7.00pm where they threw eggs at the building, defaced the national emblem and sprayed graffiti on the walls. 
Serious conflicts began at around 10.00pm near Western Market and Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan, when police let off rounds of teargas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the protestors, some of whom threw bricks, bottles and umbrellas at the police.
The Justice and Peace Commission accused the police of using excessive force against protestors in Sheung Wan in stark contrast with a near lack of presence in Yuen Long.
It said society is severely divided because of the Hong Kong government failure to address the demands of the public and tactics employed against protestors. It urged the government to immediately withdraw the extradition bill and set up an independent inquiry committee to look into the truth. It demanded the police start a thorough investigation and bring the Yuen Long attackers to justice.
The statement also pointed out that political reform and universal suffrage is the way to deal with the social problems presently confronting Hong Kong.
During the Yuen Long attacks, the Holy Redeemer Church and St. Jerome Church, which are close by, as well as the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Taipo, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Wanchai, opened their doors to people in need.
In a homily during a Mass for Hong Kong at Our Lady of Mount Carmel the next day, July 22, Father Thomas Law Kwok-fai described the fear of a group of young people who stayed at the parish the night before. 
He said the group, who offered first aid to protestors in Western District, had been attacked with teargas and then the violence in Yuen Long made it dangerous for them to go home. 
They later heard rumours that the white-clad mob would come to Wanchai to assault them and asked the parish priest for anything they could use as weapons, according to the Kung Kao Po.
Father Law said he told them that the only protection comes  from God and asked them to sleep in peace.
He said during the homily that the only person to rely on should be Jesus Christ who overcame hatred and death, who helps us see hope in disappointment and kindness in evil. 
Father Law told those present that he had no answer for the present crisis but encouraged them to have faith in God and live out the love of Jesus Christ, which can stir up consciences and an awakened conscience can affect that of many others. 

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