I have pleaded guilty, but not guilty.
I plead guilty because I did make a public appeal to the Hong Kong public to join the “National Day Rally” on 30 September 2019, and I marched with the participants from Causeway Bay to Central on the following day.
I will not admit my fault, because I have nothing to be ashamed of.
On the day of the incident, tens of thousands of people responded to the call to attend the rally, united as one, and demonstrated their public opinion and protest power through collective action.
The march was held peacefully and in accordance with the original arrangements from the beginning to the end. We were merely exercising our rights under the Basic Law and exercising our inherent freedom to express our political views. What was wrong with that?
If we should feel guilty about this, should not all those who have participated in the three million-person marches in 2019 also feel deep remorse?
Your Honour, I must stress here that the freedom to demonstrate, to assemble and to march is not ancient, but is the result of continuous struggle by the general public. Although these rights are gradually being recognised as universal values and are enshrined in international covenants and national constitutions, history shows that when rulers have been confronted with continuous and growing popular resistance, they would blatantly violate these hard won rights in order to suppress dissent.
The fact that I did not apply to the police but staged a march in protest against the authorities’ unjustified ban on similar events organised by the Civil Human Rights Front highlights the deliberate efforts of Carrie Lam’s regime to blatantly stifle the freedom to demonstrate and to deter people from joining the protest movement. We therefore call on the public to refuse to give in and continue to participate in the “National Day Rally”, to resist with direct collective action, in order to arouse public indignation and to gather more strength to defend the freedom of Hong Kong people.
In fact, knowing full well that I would be subject to political prosecution, I still took the lead in calling on the public to join the march, just to fulfill my obligation of civil disobedience.
Your Honour, I have always adhered to the concept of “civil disobedience”, believing that the people have the natural right to refuse to obey the draconian laws imposed on society by the rulers, and that they should declare their will through peaceful collective action, even if they are forced to do so by repression. In this way, we can gain the support of the majority of the people, unite with one voice and mobilise a full-scale non-cooperation movement against the regime in power, and force the unjust regime to abandon laws and systems that are unjust and contrary to public opinion.
Therefore, not only do I have a clear conscience in initiating the “National Day Rally”, I am also duty-bound to do so.
It is because I know that if the people of Hong Kong were to give in and let the Carrie Lam regime slaughter their rights, not only would the freedom of demonstration and assembly be lost, but other freedoms would also be lost, and Hong Kong would be reduced to a silent society.
In 2014, tens of thousands of people were inspired to join the “peaceful occupation” and the “Umbrella Movement”, to fight peacefully and collectively against the NPC’s 8.31 decision to stifle Hong Kong people’s right to universal suffrage, and we fought for the implementation of universal suffrage. Although the movement was unsuccessful, it was indelible. Five years later, the people’s struggle against the draconian laws imposed by the Carrie Lam regime has developed into a mass movement to fight for the “five demands”, which is unprecedented in scale and number. At the root of it all, its strength comes from the resolute will of the general public to stay true to their original intentions. It is undoubtedly a democratic movement that embodies the spirit of Hong Kong people’s struggle for democracy.
For a long time, I have been committed to fighting for democracy and justice. Both inside and outside the legislature, I have made it my mission to achieve full universal suffrage. As the people of Hong Kong struggle for this cause, how can I not strive for it in my position and resist the oppression of the Carrie Lam regime? It is only right that I should take the lead in the “National Day Rally” and join hands with the masses.
Your Honour, I am not trying to justify my actions here, but I would like to explain my reasons for organising the “National Day Rally”. Civil disobedience is an open and honest act of appealing to the conscience of the public. It is unnecessary to withhold anything, nor is it necessary to beg for mercy.
Since I have chosen the path of resistance, I naturally understand that I must face up to the rugged road ahead, and that going to jail to bear the criminal responsibility is the only way to go.
“A heart that is always open and free from shame makes one powerful and eloquent in the face of hardship”.
I would like to share this message with the people of Hong Kong.
LEUNG Kwok Hung
Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre