Activist Ken Tsang said Tuesday that he would not withdraw from the democracy movement, while appealing to the public to stand in solidarity with pro-democracy activists.
“I kept an honest and upright attitude throughout the trial. I decided to drop my appeal not because I am weak or because I have given up fighting against injustice,” Tsang told reporters before he entered the High Court.
“We have tried our best and this is the best outcome, given that the government, police and the Department of Justice have been trying to shield each other.”
The activist announced on Monday that he has decided to drop his appeal against the five-week prison sentence he received for assaulting police and resisting arrest during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
Tsang, 40, was convicted of assault for pouring liquid on police officers from the embankment of an underpass at Lung Wo Road and then resisting arrest. He was then brought to a substation at Tamar Park and beaten up by seven police officers, who were recently jailed for two years.
Tsang said Tuesday that the conviction of the seven officers was one of the reasons behind his decision to accept his sentence.
“I hope society will be more understanding and supportive of activists,” he said. “None of the activists were motivated by self-interest – we came forward to resist tyranny and fight for a more just society for future generations.”
“Only resistance can bring change,” he added.
Tsang is one of the electors with a vote in this Sunday’s chief executive election. He said he will be voting from inside the jailhouse.
Support from lawmakers
Lawmakers Lau Siu-lai, Tanya Chan and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung saw Tsang off at the courthouse on Tuesday.
“Tsang made the decision to face his legal punishment – I think he is very brave and has a sense of responsibility,” Lau told HKFP.
Lau is facing a court case over the validity of the oath she took last year when assuming office as lawmaker. She said she is not particularly worried about the outcome, which has yet to be handed down by the court.
Commenting on the legal challenges facing a number of pro-democracy lawmakers and protesters, Lau said: “Democracy is not an easy goal. Hong Kong lags behind [other democracies] by more than a century. We need to work harder.”
One of Tsang’s supporters cried and hugged Tsang before he entered the courtroom. Others shook hands with him and shouted slogans such as “you are a real man who bravely faces the consequences of your actions.”
Inside the courtroom, Tsang confirmed to Judge Albert Wong Sung-hau that he dropped his appeal voluntarily and understood that he would not be allowed to appeal against the case in the future.
After the judge said that Tsang would be sent to prison immediately, around 40 people present at the hearing bid farewell to the activist, who took off a yellow ribbon – a symbol of the democracy movement – pinned to his shirt and passed it to his lawyer.
Around 30 pro-democracy supporters demonstrated outside the court. They held a shouting match with about 10 police supporters who staged a counter-protest nearby.
One of Tsang’s supporters, veteran activist “The Bull” Tsang Kin-shing, told HKFP: “Ken Tsang acted on impulse when he saw police officers using unreasonable force against protesters. Today he dropped his appeal. I respect his decision.”
Meanwhile, the pro-police group accused the judiciary of bias on the basis that Tsang should have been given a heavier sentence.
“He is the culprit, because he was the reason why the seven convicted police officers assaulted him,” a police supporter told HKFP.
“Even if the seven officers were not the ones Tsang was seen pouring liquid over,” she added, “they were the colleagues of the assaulted officer. I am also not related to the convicted officers, but you act because you see something unfair.”
The seven officers have since filed an appeal against their conviction. The court will decide whether to hear their appeal at a later date.