Tens of thousands of demonstrators attended a march on Sunday afternoon in support of three Occupy activists and 13 northeast New Territories development protesters who were jailed last week by the Court of Appeal. Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were sentenced to jail over their participation in clashes at the Civic Square in September 2014, which later sparked the Occupy protests. Another 13 activists were given jail terms for demonstrations outside the Legislative Council that took place in response to then-finance minister Ng Leung-sing forcing a vote on controversial development plans while pan-democrats were absent.
HKFP spoke to a range of lawmakers, activists and politicians, who gave their take on Sunday’s protest.
Lau Siu-lai, ousted lawmaker
“I feel very relieved – I’m very happy that Hong Kong people have not given up. From the disqualification cases to the re-sentencing of the northeast New Territories protesters, you can see that an authoritarian government is being set up very quickly. [Hong Kong has] slowly transformed from a civilised, rational society governed by the rule of law to one where the three branches work with each other, and you see instances of targeting in political cases. Even in the process of the review, there are unreasonable procedures and sentences.
“The turnout today boosted my morale, [because] it shows that Hong Kong people still value our systems. Apart from feeling heartbroken over the jailing of protesters, I think we are most heartbroken over the fact that Hong Kong has lost these systems – and it is why we came out today. It will be a strong motivation for our future democratic movements.”
Lau stressed that she would continue her work in promoting street markets and elderly welfare, and her former assistants have not given up on these issues. Lau also said that she is inclined towards not appealing, given the heavy legal costs, but said she could not yet comment on whether she will run in the Legislative Council by-elections.
Mug Cheung, mother of jailed activist Willis Ho
“I’m touched. This incident, to a lot of Hongkongers, is very frustrating… this is one protest after Occupy that has drawn a huge crowd, and they have just one objective in mind: to support [the 16 jailed activists]. I believe this is because the court has handed down such a heavy sentence, and the people are angry; they want to come out to tell the government, the judges and society, that they should not treat these young people – with aspirations and passions – in this way.”
“It is a very motivating moment for those who are in jail and their families – when they watch the 6:30pm news broadcast today they will see this scene, and it is a huge boost for their morale.”
Denise Ho, Cantopop singer and activist
“If you ask me, there’s still a lot of people who haven’t thrown in the towel, and there are many who are still working hard. Maybe some of them feel powerless at times, but I believe that doesn’t mean they’ve given up. Maybe they’re waiting for a moment when they can all come out again… you can’t request everyone who is fighting to be doing it 24/7, 365 days a year. At the right time, I believe these Hong Kong people will step up again.”
“There are disappointments and mixed emotions, but the fact that HongKongers pursue justice, strive towards an ideal Hong Kong, and defend the city… this has never changed.”
Anthony Wong Yiu-ming, Cantopop singer and activist
“Those who are in power say that they want society to reconcile, to not be divided, but they do these things to provoke the public, and I think they will lose the trust of young people towards the government.
“They will have to pay a heavy price for doing this over and over again, and they really have to work extra hard to regain the trust of the people, especially the younger generation. Otherwise, society will be even more fractured.”
Edward Leung, Hong Kong Indigenous
“I think I have been empowered by the mass[es] today, because I haven’t been to a march like this in a lot of years. I am so happy to see so many people protest here today, even if some of them say it is of no use.”
“Even though, in the past, we have different strategies [and] different ideologies during the whole struggle, at this moment we think stand[ing] in solidarity is the most important thing today, so that the government will know that we are not really afraid. Even though we are facing huge political oppression.”
“Unfortunately, there is no hope for my trial; a jail sentence is inevitable.”
Eddie Chu, lawmaker
“I think that [today] shows the characteristic of the Hong Kong people, that like we witnessed [on] 28 September 2014 – it was because citizens wanted to protect students and young people that they came out in large numbers and triggered the Umbrella Movement.”
“To many Hong Kong people, democratic parties are passive, we are just reacting to Beijing’s move. So the major task in front of us is how to rebuild that leadership [of the democratic movement] in a consolidated way with different groups in the spectrum… I think we need time, but at least let’s not be so hostile to each other and use the support [of] the political prisoners to rebuild that solidarity.”
Additional reporting: Jun Pang.