Immediate Release of Alex Chow by Hong Kong Authorities
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Alex is an activist in Hong Kong who has recently been sentenced to seven months in prison for his involvement in the Umbrella Movement’s 2014 pro-democracy protests, after an appeal by the Hong Kong Department of Justice. The Umbrella Movement advocated for democracy and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Alex is currently a Masters student at the London School of Economics in London, England, and was slated to begin a PhD at UC Berkeley this month.
He, along with fellow activists Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, have already served the majority of the community service penalties that they received from the court during the initial trial for their case. The decision to impose a harsher penalty and imprison the three activists is a clear indication of political suppression on the part of the Hong Kong authorities, with many commentators describing the trio as Hong Kong’s first ‘prisoners of conscience.’ There is widespread concern that the authorities are using this case of defiance to make an example and silence other dissidents.
We, the undersigned, are deeply distressed by this injustice and demand:
- That the Hong Kong authorities immediately release Alex Chow, Joshua Wong, and Nathan Law from prison.
- That the Hong Kong authorities immediately drop all charges against Alex Chow, Joshua Wong, and Nathan Law.
- That the government of the United Kingdom express its support for these activists, condemn this miscarriage of justice, and demand their immediate release.
- That the London School of Economics, where Alex Chow is a student, reaffirm its commitment to democracy, freedom, and justice, and push for the release of the trio via all possible channels.
- That the University of California, Berkeley, where Alex was expected to begin a PhD this month, reaffirm its commitment to democracy, freedom, and justice, and push for the release of the trio via all possible channels .
- That the University of Hong Kong, where Alex completed his undergraduate degree, reaffirm its commitment to democracy, freedom, and justice, and push for the release of the trio via all possible channels.
Alex's Statement can be read below:
When the ex-members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students read out my thought, it means we three youngsters have received extra penalisation and immediate sentencing.
What are you feeling? Are you sad? Do you grieve? Are you Angry? Or are you low? Or do you clap your hands because we are going to jail?
For those who are depressed, if you are sad, please be sad. Because I believe that our feelings are the navigator of the future and guide us from this emotion and breakthrough the bewilderment of thought. Because of the suffering of others, we could find our own position again. We may feel hopeless or pain, but believe me, believe in yourself and those around you, we cry and get angry because of other people’s effort, and these are what motivate us to improve. Because, if we look carefully, this is our desire to progress, we want to help make Hong Kong, or this world, a better place one step at a time.
At this moment, many of my friends think that the rule of law might be endangered, the independence of the judiciary is questionable and some have even developed hatred for the judges. I am not surprised, at least in my heart I have also criticized them for their nonsensical rebuttal and how they have turned a blind eye to injustice. But after calming my emotion, I have greater hope towards them. Imagine when they were young, did they also have deep sense of responsibility that they have to shoulder the legal profession and be the navigator of justice and contribute to Hong Kong? So today, can they see the reason for all those protests and demonstration? What position could they stand on to make sure democracy, freedom and human rights can be implemented so that the rule of law can be protected?
Many of us would feel disappointed by the judge, but at this moment, I would like to share with you my thought: the judges will not change their mind because we condemn them. Some give up their responsibility, and others not agree with our vision to begin with. The only thing we can do is to let us, who have similar belief, become a person with love, courage and compassion.
When the emotions of sadness, grief, anger, depression haunt us, only the profound love can liberate us and prevent our heart from crumbing. On the contrary, we can get strength from it and allow it to turn us into creative, visionary and aspiring HongKongers. When we get power from these emotions, we can use our forgiving hearts to bring democratic movement back on track again and include, persuade and move more people.
Some people may ask: Would that be useful? Would that be useful as we have been engulfed by this era? Would it be useful to say “I do not have enemies”? Would that be useful as the world is of total disarray in such a quick manner. I can assure you, it is absolutely useful.
We all desire to have the autonomy and become free. However, one has to compromise in this world, we are never autonomous, we are tied by the era, bounded by history, imprisoned by culture. We cannot choose which era to be born, and we cannot choose where or which family we want to be born in.
In this way, like millions of other people of the same generation, I was born in 1990 in Hong Kong, one year after the Tiananmen Square protest. Showered by love of my parents I grew up in Hong Kong under British rule for the remaining seven years, then I received education when China became the suzerainty of Hong Kong. In 2014, when I was still in callowness, I had to join my generation and those after us in the Umbrella Movement. Was there a choice for us in this difficult circumstance? There are so many limitations on how to be born, how to live and what kind of information we receive. We, “the generation which time has chosen us” are basically trapped.
But because of this, every one of us are chosen by our time and become who we are today, as a HongKongers. We live under millions forces and factors, we cannot choose the challenges and difficulties in our journey. But if we meet those challenges, what we could control, is the direction of our heart. To observe it, so then we can live the life that we choose. Stabilize our heart, and we can stabilize the world. To stabilize the world, we must return to the heart to explore and understand oneself.
Social progress begins here, with our heart, as we accumulate force and push changes. Once we understand the direction of our heart, we can transform our observations, attitudes, and viewpoints. Once we have done that then we will develop different actions, thoughts, strategies, cultures towards people, events and objects. Ultimately, a different society, and a different world.
This kind of change can not be done by myself alone. This type of change of the heart is just like the Umbrella Movement. To fight for democracy, equality, rule of law, and freedom it requires everyone to concretely participate together. And so, we could leave the bewilderment at this moment to walk a different path and make a very different, brighter future.
The meaning of the autonomous of our own fate is how we master our heart, then this is the beginning of freedom and living a meaningful life. As long as we can protect this idea, we can begin to help more people: be empathetic, care for others and protect others. We should begin the conversation within the non-establishment camp, then develop it further. The so-called “reconnection of ‘yellow ribbons’ (people who advocate for democracy) and ‘blue ribbons’ (people who advocate for establishment)” is not something impossible. I think many friends of mine are looking forward to this image of society.
I am wondering if the judges, police and those who hate us think we deserve this. Once the judgement is ordered, would you feel relieved finally? Can you use a new angle to treat people mercifully and look into your own heart? Or will anger, resentment and hatred still occupy your heart? I have yet to reach this advanced stage to change them and make them see there is another real world that exists.
Dear friends, if your heart hears this, let us walk shoulder to shoulder, learn together, grow together, walk together, strengthen democratic movements, strengthen the civic society. If you have struggles in your heart, it is ok, we will continue our own practice and temper ourselves on a separate path, but we shall be united later.
However, please do not let cynicism, indifference and ruthlessness engulf our hearts. Even if we are imperfect, we can still move towards the direction of being complete. We have to believe, understand millions of feelings of sadness, depression, anger, sorrow, blame and indignation, then we can transform our feeling to become the motivation for our city to grow, and let us become more courageous, self-reflecting, forgiving, kind-hearted, patient and wise people and eventually change the city. Please let us sow altogether, with love, courage, tenderness and care to the earth and fight back the dignity, life and bright future that we deserve to have.
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