Cardinal John Tong Hon urges authorities to ensure safety of demonstrators

The two cardinals in Hong Kong urged the government to solve the present political deadlock after police used force to disperse thousands of unarmed protesters who struggled for full democracy in the city.

Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong called upon the government to ensure the personal safety of people and “exercise restraint in the deployment of force with a view of listening to the voice of the younger generation and citizens from all walks of life.” He issued a statement on September 29, the day after police used 87 pieces of tear gas to disperse students and the protesters who were concerned with Chinese restrictions on elections.

On October 1, as China celebrated its national day, Cardinal Joseph Zen ke-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, suggested Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying step down “for a while” and the government relaunch its political reform consultation.

Cardinal Zen said the last round of political consultation had distorted the public opinions in the city, which resulted in Beijing’s rejection of what Hong Kong residents wanted in 2017.

Hong Kong, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, is a special administrative region of China and is governed by the Basic Law, a mini-constitution. Some of the protesters feel only candidates favored by Beijing will be on the ballot for chief executive in the 2017 election.

After police broke up the protests on September 28, the local bar association criticised what it called the excessive use of tear gas as unjustified. It said it had “unnecessarily aggravated public feelings of resentment and frustration.”

Tens of thousands of people protested each day in different spots, and thousand slept overnight on streets. Several churches, including the Catholic, Methodist and Anglican parishes, open their facilities to support protesters, while many Christians organised prayer sessions at the demonstration zones.