Hong Kong Politics & Protest

‘Not a light cross to bear’: Friends write letters of support for jailed land rights activist Raphael Wong

Letters of support have appeared on social media for the 16 democracy and land rights activists who were jailed last week following a successful appeal of their sentences by the Department of Justice.

Last Thursday, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were given to six to eight months in jail for their role in a protest that sparked the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. Earlier in the week, 13 activists, including League of Social Democrats (LSD) Vice-chairman Raphael Wong, were jailed over their participation in a protest outside the Legislative Council against a controversial development plan in the northeast New Territories.

In an open letter to Raphael Wong on Tuesday, Tam Tak-Chi of the People Power group said: “You have borne the consequences for everyone – this is what I tell people at the street booths every week. I tell the public that the 16 of you have borne the responsibility and price for what they should also bear.”

Tam Tak-chi

Tam Tak-chi. Photo: Tam Tak-chi, via Facebook.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets to protest the activists’ sentences. Tam recalled meeting a protester at the march who resembled Wong.

See more: ‘Morale boost’: Politicians and activists speak of renewed solidarity at Sunday’s march over protester jailings

“The man said that he admired me a lot – I didn’t believe it and felt ashamed, because I am nothing compared to you and the other protesters currently behind bars. We sometimes yell that we will take down the communist party, but in fact, we are afraid of offending our own bosses. We resist, not only through words or talk, but also through our actions and our honesty; we resist, and we must pay the price – it is not a light cross to bear.”

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People Power at Sunday’s march. Photo: Jun Pang/HKFP.

Figo Chan, organisation officer at LSD, said in a letter to Wong on Monday that he was finding it difficult to hold in his emotions, but he would continue to speak for Wong.

“I thank you for trusting me, in spite of the people who say that I’m not suitable, who oppose me as your spokesperson,” said Chan.

See more: ‘It may be hot outside, but not hotter than our anger’: Protest against activist jailings attracts young and old

“There’s nothing I can do to repay you, I can only… work three times as hard, to the best of my ability, to help you, not only because you trust and support me, but because of what you said before: ‘You are my little brother. Whatever happens to you, I will support you, help you.’ Now, I’m going to do my best to fulfill my responsibilities as a little brother – to help you, my brother, from the outside.”

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Figo Chan, with Raphael Wong in the background. Photo: Figo Chan/Facebook.

Chan said that although other members of LSD, including Secretary-general Chan Bo-wing, Deputy Secretaries-general Kwan Siu-wang and Chau Ka-fat, and general member Chiu Chi-sum, were likely to be imprisoned for criminal contempt of court, the party would persist in their work.

“I hope that in prison, you will also persist – that in the face of charges of public nuisance, criminal contempt of court, and the Northeast New Territories protest appeal, you will keep going!”

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Photo: In-Media.

Chan ended the open letter with a quote from Chen Duxiu, a 20th century revolutionary socialist intellectual who was expelled by the Chinese Communist Party and later imprisoned under the Nationalist government. The quote is also often used by the LSD in its chants and slogans.

“With a clear conscience, nothing can break one’s spirit; even in the darkest of circumstances, you can see the rainbow! Ming [Raphael,] I am proud of you!”

'Not a light cross to bear': Friends write letters of support for jailed land rights activist Raphael Wong