Aged Chinese Cardinal Says He Is ‘Prepared to Be Jailed’ for Democracy

Aged Chinese Cardinal Says He Is ‘Prepared to Be Jailed’ for Democracy

Eighty-two-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former archbishop of Hong Kong, joined the three leaders of the Occupy Central movement in turning themselves in to police on Wednesday.

“I’m prepared to be jailed, which is the strongest and most sincere proof of the unfairness of the system in Hong Kong,” Zen said.

He said he would not defend himself if the charges are “reasonable”.

The co-founders of the pro-democracy movement “Occupy Central” – Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and Dr. Chan Kin-man — said they were turning themselves in to the police to accept the legal consequences of leading the civil disobedience effort.

They also urged the students to retreat from the protest sites.

Protests began in late September with students staging a week-long boycott of Beijing’s decision to allow only pre-screened candidates to be elected as Hong Kong’s leader in 2017.

“We are fighting for a real democratic election, said Cardinal Zen, adding that China’s decision to vet the candidates is not a “real election.”

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said the police will act according to procedure in dealing with the three Occupy leaders. For the moment, all were allowed to leave without facing any charges.

“We are happy to see that the original co-founders have helped in calling on protesters to go home. And we hope the movement will wrap up soon,” Lai said.

When Hong Kong was returned from British protection to China in 1997, the Chinese government agreed to grant the region greater freedoms and autonomy.

Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome