Editor's note: Former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan on Wednesday (7 April) pleaded guilty to taking part in an unauthorized assembly on 31 August 2019. The following is the full text of his submission for mitigation with District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock.
Your Honour, I plead guilty but I’ve done no wrong in affirming the rights of people to peaceful procession and I believe history will absolve me. May I give you more on my background so as your honour can understand why I decided to march with the people for the future of Hong Kong.
As a Christian, during Easter when the scripture was read, I was reminded how Christ went to meet his fate on the cross, sacrificing for mankind to reconcile sinners with God. From His arrest to his prosecution to his death sentencing by Pilate, he was a political prisoner who committed no crime apart from seen to be a threat to the Jewish Hierarchy by serving the poor and oppressed and preaching the good news.
Throughout history of mankind, the rights that humankind now enjoyed were pioneered by political prisoners from Gandhi to Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela. I was the Chairman of Hong Kong anti apartheid movement back in the 80s and I always remember the determination of Nelson Mandela when he said during his trial back in 1963: “an ideal for which I am prepared to die for.”. His ideal was the equality for black South African and then he spent 27 years in jail. I was thrilled that in 1994, he was elected President of South Africa, giving hope to oppressed all over the world that justice can be achieve through the persistent struggle of the people.
I went to length about his inspiration to me personally because I started my activism starting 1978 for labour rights and democracy. My lifetime ideal is the empowerment of the poor and oppressed to speak out, to rise up for their rights. Whenever the oppressed assert their rights to fight for their dignity, I feel myself also empowered and inspired to continue the difficult struggle and challenges facing Hong Kong. I asked myself, what is my life without the struggle. The struggle is my life, I cannot imagine my life without it. It had been forty three years of struggle for me and your Honour must understand my deep felt pain and sufferings to see how the State Power had been using brute force against the people and the sacrifices of so many Hongkongers who were injured, jailed or exiled, also to witness the deprivation of the basic rights of the people and the regression in democracy. I saw my ideal crumbling but I will continue the struggle even though darkness is surrounding us. It is an ideal for which I am prepared for any sanction.
Your Honour may say the law is the law, I seems not show any remorse in breaching law in this trial for August 31st. I hope Your Honour understand the utmost importance I put on the rights to freedom of expression through speech or assembly. This is the only avenue the weak and oppressed can have to right the wrongs on them. If deprived, I will call this systemic violence on the people and I do not want to see Hong Kong rule on the basis of such systemic violence. Therefore I would do my utmost to affirm the rights of people to a dignified and peaceful procession to express themselves.
Your Honour must be passionate about upholding the law and I respect your ideal. I hope I can quote from the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
“Justices continue to think and can change. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eye will be open tomorrow”
I was very impressed with her passion for gender equality and how she fought her whole life for gender equality and was able to achieve so much. Her message was time changes and judges should catch up with time. For Hong Kong, the worst may yet to come, and we need the legal profession to open their eyes to the suffering of the people and reflect on which side the law is with and how to changes with time for the advancement of the rights and dignity of the people.
I humbly submit myself to your sentencing and whatever your sentence, I have no regret for standing up for the rights of the people.