Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan sentenced for candlelight vigil

photo: AFP

Union leader Lee Cheuk Yan, along with seven others, has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for “inciting, organising and participating” in a candlelight vigil on the 4th of June 2020.

The event, to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, was organised by the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, of which Lee Cheuk-yan was the chair.

This sentence will run concurrently with the 20-month prison sentence Lee Cheuk-yan is already serving.

He pleaded guilty in October and in his mitigation to the court said: “To honour the memory of the June Fourth Massacre is a long-held sentiment of mine. As Milan Kundera wrote in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Kniha smíchu a zapomnění), ‘the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.’

“This is the struggle of memory against forgetting, as symbolised by the candlelight vigil in Victoria Park.

“The generation of the people of Hong Kong who witnessed the 1989 Movement intensely loved their nation, its people and hoped for the realisation of democracy in China. Our emotions were intertwined with the students and citizens who fought for democracy in Tiananmen Square. We assembled, marched, sat in, and made donations in hope of the triumph of democracy.

“But at the sound of the first gunshot, we wept and despaired. Hong Kong would never be the same. The people of Hong Kong moved on from political apathy to activism for the democratic future of Hong Kong, wishing that the dream of freedom and democracy would one day be enjoyed by our compatriots in the Mainland.”

Lee Cheuk-yan is general secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, which has been forced to disband.