Hong Kong cardinal calls for non-violent resistance

Gandhi and Mandela held up as peaceful examples for pro-democracy protesters to follow
Hong Kong cardinal calls for non-violent resistance

Cardinal John Tong says using violence against violence is not a solution and will only cause more harm. (Photo by Aaron Tam/AFP)

As protests continue in Hong Kong for democracy and freedom, Cardinal John Tong has called on people in the China-administered territory to emulate world leaders who advocated non-violent resistance.

In a speech broadcast on Radio Television Hong Kong, the cardinal projected India’s Mahatma Gandhi and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela as examples of peaceful resistance.

People should not feel “despair or bear hatred to anyone even though their demands are not answered, because such negative feelings can breed violence, which cannot solve any problems,” Cardinal Tong said.

He said the peaceful movements against tyrannies led by Gandhi and Mandela won the approval of the world because of their insistence on peaceful means.

“To rebuild harmony, giving a concrete response to the demands of the people is the real way. The priority today is to restore trust between the government and people so that the precious harmony in society can appear again,” he said in his speech reported by diocesan publication Sunday Examiner.

Demonstrations began in March to protest an amendment to a law aiming to allow authorities to extradite fugitives wanted in Taiwan and mainland China. Protesters believe such laws aim to choke the administrative freedom of Hong Kong and bring it increasingly under Chinese authority.

As protests spread, demonstrators made five specific demands. The major ones are a probe into alleged police excessive force and a revival of democratic reforms.

The demonstrations continue mostly on weekends. Sometimes they turn violent, as happened on July 1 when protesters stormed the Legislative Council building and vandalized Chinese government symbols there.

Cardinal Tong said using violence against violence is not a solution and will only cause more harm. However, he also wanted the government to respond concretely to the demands of the people and for law enforcement officers to act in accordance to their "conscience and the law.”

Cardinal Tong said he could not give any suggestions to solve Hong Kong’s situation as he is not an expert in politics. However, he said he prays to God to abide with the people of Hong Kong. “Prayer can also change hearts so that we can face the difficulties and see hope,” he said.

He noted that most of his audience are “non-believers who may feel lost in the face of the turmoil. I encourage you to take a deep breath and think about what you have relied on in past trials to rekindle your hope.”

The cardinal said it pains him to see “young people in anxiety due to the present social crisis, and leading them out of the turmoil is another urgent task for all sectors of society as well as the government.”

“To rebuild harmony, giving a concrete response to the demands of the people is the real way. The priority today is to restore trust between the government and people so that the precious harmony in society can appear again,” Cardinal Tong said.

He also called on the “government to really listen to the voice of Hong Kong people. I call on the law enforcers, who were granted powers by law, to carry out their duties heeding the voice of their conscience and in accordance with the law so that people’s trust and respect for them may be restored.”

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