Pontifical Institute Decries Hong Kong’s Mass Imprisonment of Protesters

Police arrest a protester in the Wanchai area of Hong Kong on October 1, 2019, as the city
Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — The official press agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has denounced the mass arrests, imprisonment, and “reeducation” programs imposed on participants in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations of 2019.

According to AsiaNews, Hong Kong police arrested more than 10,000 people during the 2019 protests, 1,300 of whom were sent to prison or correctional institutions.

Nearly 500 inmates were forced to participate in “deradicalization” programs to help them “rebuild positive values,” AsiaNews notes in its December 9 report, underscoring the similarity to Beijing’s reeducation programs reserved for Uyghurs and “underground” Catholics.

Managed by the Department of Corrections Services, the project entails teaching subjects such as Chinese history and moral and civics education to strengthen the sense of national identity, as well as psychological support for reintegration into society.

HONG KONG, CHINA - DECEMBER 8: Pro-democracy protesters march on a street as they take part in a demonstration on December 8, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Police and firefighters entered the university that has been occupied by pro-democracy protesters for the past 10 days, to remove hazardous items and restore safety. Demonstrations in Hong Kong stretched into its sixth month as pro-democracy groups won the recent District Council elections, continuing demands for an independent inquiry into police brutality, the retraction of the word "riot" to describe the rallies, and genuine universal suffrage. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Pro-democracy protesters march on a street as they take part in a demonstration on December 8, 2019, in Hong Kong. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Perhaps more distressing still, the agency observed that 345 of those imprisoned during the protests were under 21 years of age, according to data provided by City Security Secretary Chris Tang.

Hong Kong police chief, Chris Tang (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Hong Kong police chief, Chris Tang (Ng Han Guan/AP)

The younger inmates imprisoned for pro-democracy demonstrations are forced to attend “patriotic education” sessions to eradicate their “extreme ideological views,” AsiaNews reported.

The data reveal that of the 10,000 individuals arrested by police for pro-democracy demonstrations, about 3,000 went to trial, including 517 minors. Of these, 2,044 completed the judicial process, with 1,631 found guilty and sentenced to various punishments including prison, probation, and social services.

The crackdown imposed by city authorities after the 2019 demonstrations, especially with the adoption in 2020 of the national security law imposed by Beijing, has effectively limited, suspended, or canceled Hong Kong’s rights to assembly, association, expression, and political participation, AsiaNews asserted.


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