2022-06-03

Ah Chee,

This is my second year “Memorializing June 4th” within the walls. Thinking back, since the “89 Democracy Movement”, every year, at the time between spring and summer, I would be running off my feet. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China’s June 4th memorial would commence with the Mid-Autumn Festival’s lantern lighting event, followed by the month-long street stalls with signing of condolence books, planning the “May 1st Labour Day” grand procession, uniting with workers of the world, raising the banner of Hong Kong workers’ fight for their rights and dignity. The whole of May would be crammed with events leading up to the “Memorializing June 4th” activities, like the June 4th democracy marathon, kite-flying, washing the pillar of shame, June 4th debate in the Legislative Council, were all mandatory events. Before the opening of the June 4th Museum, every year, before June 4th, we would update the exhibits’ design and content, in order to attract visitors (including visitors from China) to come view the exhibition. Most important would be the events the Sunday before June 4th, the “Patriotic Democracy Grand Procession”, and the “June 4th Candlelight Vigil”. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China had tried for a few years to organize a June 4th Youth Camp, to foster through role-playing and discussion, a new generation of democracy advocates, for them to enter into the state of mind of the students of the “89 Democracy Movement”.

I had passed 31 years in this manner. Until my incarceration on April 16th last year, I was only able to participate in the events leading up to the “Memorializing June 4th”. I was in prison on the 32nd anniversary of the June 4th gatherings, and was only able to memorialize the events in my jail cell. This year, the 33rd anniversary, I am unable to organize anything related to “Memorializing June 4th”; I am only, again in the cusp between spring and summer, reflect and gaze back at the many events of past years. This year, the theme I came up with for myself is “Early Thoughts, Remembering, Persisting” – not forgetting the early thoughts, remembering the facts, persisting in the ideals. Fortunately, I have in my hands tools to help me remember, and that is the written record of these many years of June 4th events, allowing me to revisit the 1991 event, when Uncle Wah’s (Szeto Wah) words of condolence and speeches, as well as the declarations from each year’s June 4th events. I see the evolution of the songs sang at these events, from the early “Blood-soaked Spirit”, “Descendents of the Dragon”, to the specially written lyrics by Choi Ho-Hon (later renaming himself Choi Ying-Leet), to songs like “Freedom Flower” and the recent years’ “Returning Victorious From the Battle for Democracy”. For me, the song that most aptly describes my state of mind within these walls would be the rarely heard “Sunshine of May”; even though it doesn’t have the high spirit of “Freedom Flower”, but it describes the deep feeling of not forgetting one’s first thoughts and intentions. I share it with you here:

“Sunshine of May”

Now it seems I have been waiting
Waiting for that day
Can it be that your heart is broken
But my heart is even heavier

If you ask the place I am seeking
The future I look for
For the hope I have in my heart
My life I have discarded out the door

Looking at this motherland so afflicted
Everyone should shout at the top of their voice
Discarding everything before me that is mine
The sun in May is shining

This year’s “Memorializing June 4th” would be spent in jail, but I would do what I did last year, fast for one day, lighting a match at 8:00 p.m. to remember those who died, remembering the tens of thousands of candlelight at Victoria Park, sing “Sunshine of May”, reading out the words of condolences and declaration from previous June 4th gatherings, thereby taking myself back to the first thoughts of the patriotic, freedom-loving citizens, giving myself the strength to carry on. I believe that the people of Hong Kong will be with me in “Memorializing June 4th”, each using their own way to express this spirit of remembrance, and the determination in the fight for democracy. I believe in the strength of not forgetting our early thoughts, using the example of passing on the flame, allowing the next generation to share in our determination to rehabilitate June 4th, and to fight for democracy.

I feel most regret for the Tiananmen mothers who, with the passage of time, has one after another left us, unable to witness the truth from ever being exposed, for justice to prevail. I do not know when June 4th would be rehabilitated, but I do want to tell all the Tiananmen mothers that, in the hearts of the people, in the hearts of the freedom and democracy-loving people all over the world, these first martyrs of this fight for democracy will be remembered, and their spirit and will would prevail.

To this day, I have gone through trials for my five accusations, and am ready to face the sixth accusation, namely, that The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, myself, Ho Chun-Yun (Albert) and Chow Hang-Tung (Tonyee) incited actions to overthrow the government. I will face these charges, not forgetting my first thoughts; to love the people and to love democracy, what crime is that? I will insist that to fight for democracy is not a crime, to refute these words of political accusations.

The media reports that I and Ho Chun-Yun have fallen ill; my illness was not serious, and there has been no after-effect, other than putting up with the two-weeks of isolation in the prison hospital wing, spending every day in my cell, other than bath time, which was difficult to bear, but nevertheless that time is over. My prison life has gone back to normal, I try to exercise every day, jogging when I can, and I hope that I can live this period of incarceration with good health, to have the healthiest of body and spirit to live my future days of freedom. The hardest to endure is to witness Hong Kong’s case after case of suppressing civil society, feeling impotent, seeing one after another comrade being arrested, incarcerated, or forced to leave Hong Kong, for these things I feel sadness and heartbreak, not knowing when we would live through this time of darkness, but I can only believe in the passage of history, and await the brightness of dawn.

I will end with these words from a Russian writer, to give to the people of Hong Kong:

“Human history is not always good triumphing over evil, but it is that attempts by forces of evil to extinguish the seeds of humanity and love that, until today, has not destroyed humanity and compassion; evil will never triumph over goodness.”

Let us all maintain the strength of our humanity and compassion.

Encouraging one another,

Lee Cheuk-Yan