Hong Kong labour leader, four others imprisoned for democracy rally

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) General Secretary Lee Cheuk Yan and four other democracy leaders received prison sentences for organising and participating in a pro-democracy rally in 2019 which was deemed illegal under Hong Kong’s new National Security Law. 

Lee, who has been sentenced to serve 18 months in prison, pleaded guilty, but asserted that he committed nothing wrong in affirming the rights of Hong Kong citizens to free speech and assembly.

“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,” said Lee before his sentencing. 

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson called the prison sentences “unjust and arbitrary.” 

“As trade unionists, we will continue to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong’s democracy movement and trade unions. There is no crime in workers fighting for their right to freedom of speech and association. It is simply democracy in action. If there is a crime committed here, it is the Hong Kong government’s attack on the fundamental freedoms of its citizens. Democracy is a crime only to tyrants,” Yuson said.