WASHINGTON D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Hong Kong’s emeritus Cardinal Joseph Zen has been nominated for the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize by the bipartisan U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
In a press release Thursday, the Commission announced that it was nominating Zen, along with journalist Jimmy Lai and four other Hong Kong citizens, for the annually awarded prize.
Joining Cardinal Zen on the list of nominees is the 75-year-old Catholic journalist and vocal China critic Jimmy Lai, who is currently serving a six-year jail term in China for a court sentence of “fraud” and “collusion with foreign forces.”
READ: Hong Kong court sentences China critic and Catholic journalist Jimmy Lai to six years in prison
Alongside Zen and Lai, the bipartisan Commission have nominated four other Hong Kongers: Tonyee Chow Hang-tung, Gwyneth Ho, Lee Cheuk-Yan and Joshua Wong.
All six “were nominated because they are ardent champions of Hong Kong’s autonomy, human rights, and the rule of law as guaranteed under the Sino-British Declaration and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” wrote the Commission.
The six individuals, continued the press release, “are representative of millions of Hong Kongers who peacefully opposed the steady erosion of the city’s democratic freedoms by the Hong Kong government and the government of the People’s Republic of China.”
Please SIGN this petition calling on Hong Kong leader John Lee to cease all intimidation of Cardinal Joseph Zen following his arrest for supporting pro-democracy demonstrators.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, was arrested by the pro-China security police in Hong Kong in a major escalation of intimidation against pro-freedom activists in the region.
Zen was one of four people arrested on May 11th on suspicion of "colluding with foreign forces", with the 90-year-old's detention marking the first high-profile move by Hong Kong's new Chief Executive, John Lee.
The Hong Kong security police targeted Zen as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which provided “legal, medical, psychological and emergency financial assistance” to those involved in the 2019 protests against the government’s Extradition Law Amendment Bill, which allows prisoners to be transferred to China for trial.
Cardinal Zen has since been released, but his passport was confiscated to prevent him leaving Hong Kong.
The arrest was made possible under the terms of Hong Kong’s draconian national security law, passed in 2020, which Zen warned would be used to silence the Church.
The outspoken cardinal previously confessed that he was prepared to go to prison under the terms of the new law, saying, “If right and proper words were considered against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials, and arrests.”
Cardinal Zen is a hero to Hong Kongers, and needs the world to stand with him today.
SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition calling on Hong Kong leader John Lee to cease all intimidation of Cardinal Zen today.
The people of Hong Kong, including Cardinal Zen, have lived under the shadow of Beijing since 1997, and know personally how oppressive Chinese Communist Party rule is.
This arrest of a Catholic cardinal by communist authorities in Hong Kong is a stark reminder of the harsh realities of life for all citizens of the region.
Cardinal Zen's plight demands the attention of all people of good-will, as his spirit of resistance in the face of tyranny continues to inspire new generations of Hong Kongers to defy the horrors of communist rule.
Please stand with Cardinal Zen today - SIGN and SHARE this petition calling for an end to the intimidatory tactics of the Chinese Communist Party's proxy leaders in Hong Kong.
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The Commission is comprised of Republican and Democrat congressmen and senators, chaired and co-chaired by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) respectively. In nominating the six Hong Kongers, the lawmakers wrote that they “seek to honor all those in Hong Kong whose bravery and determination in the face of repression has inspired the world.”
Benedict Rogers, the co-founder and chief executive of Hong Kong Watch, welcomed the news, stating that it “captures the breadth and scale of the crackdown in Hong Kong, across multiple sectors including law, politics, media, trade unions, civil society and religion.”
Rogers further described the nomination as “extremely welcome and wholly deserved, both for the individuals who have been nominated and for Hong Kong’s fight for freedom.”
The Commission’s nomination of the six individuals is of particular note, given that they all have been censured in some way by the Chinese authorities, including serving jail terms. Some, such as Lai, are still in prison.
Cardinal Zen was recently fined HK $4,000 ($512) by the Chinese authorities for failing to properly register the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. The 612 Fund was established to offer “legal, medical, psychological, and emergency financial assistance” to those involved in the 2019 protests against the government’s Extradition Law Amendment Bill, which sought to allow prisoners to be transferred to mainland China for trial.
Zen subsequently appealed the sentence. His fine was a lesser penalty than the potential jail term he was original threatened with, after being arrested by the Chinese Communist authorities under the terms of China’s draconian 2020 National Security Law.
However, Reuters reported that even though the cardinal avoided a conviction under the National Security Law, Zen could yet face further prosecution as police investigate “an accusation of ‘collusion with foreign forces.’”
Rogers had previously spoken to LifeSiteNews about the Vatican’s “clear marginalization” of Cardinal Zen during his trial, stating that Pope Francis’ “emphasis on dialogue is admirable, but dialogue at all costs, including the Pope’s silence on major injustices in China, is wrong.”
READ: Cdl. Zen hospitalized after returning to Hong Kong from Benedict XVI’s funeral
Zen was allowed to travel to Rome at the start of the year for Pope Benedict’s funeral, in a surprise move by the Chinese authorities who have confiscated the 91-year-old’s passport. However, since returning he had to admit himself to hospital after health conditions he had prior to the funeral worsened upon his return to Hong Kong.
The cardinal mentioned shoulder pain as well as breathing problems, for which he is apparently receiving treatment from “the best doctors in Hong Kong.”