Lee Cheuk-yan is is a Hong Kong politician and social activist. He was the former chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. On 18 April 2021, Lee was one of the 15 Hong Kong high-profile democracy figures arrested on suspicion of organizing, publicizing or taking part in several unauthorized assemblies between August and October 2019 during the anti-extradition bill protests. Lee is now in prison.
Let us light the June 4 candles in our hands together, and look at the flickering flames.
In their light, we see the students who went on hunger strike on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989, the thousands of Chinese people who held up banners of democracy and freedom together with the students. We also see the statue of the Goddess of Democracy erected in Tiananmen Square when everyone had hope for a free and democratic China.
That candlelight was extinguished by tanks, machine guns, and military vehicles. What was left were deaths and injuries. Blood stained the streets of Beijing, and the hope for democracy was dashed.
But the candles were lit again and again! In their light, we see the Tiananmen Mothers who have insisted on telling the truth and pursuing justice for 32 years; Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08 and his final struggle; Li Wangyang’s cry for democracy for which he had no regret even if beheaded; the fearless spirit of the human rights lawyers persecuted in the 709 crackdown; the strength of persistent truth-telling by feminist, labour and environmental groups as well as citizen journalists, Dr. Li Wenliang and many others.
The candlelight has been extinguished again, by the Chinese Communist Party through arrest, torture and long-term imprisonment. The people are silenced, and the truth is covered up by lies.
For 31 years, candles were lit in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park year after year without interruption. On 1 July 2003, 500,000 people marched in opposition to Article 23 legislation. In 2014, a sea of umbrellas appeared outside Civic Square. In 2019, one million and then two million people took to the streets to protest against extradition to China. Hong Kong citizens did not fear the batons, tear gas, rubber bullets or live ammunition. They persisted in the struggle.
The candlelight has been extinguished by the Hong Kong puppet regime using batons, the National Security Law and political prosecutions. They send our fellow protesters one by one to prison, turning them into political prisoners.
Yet the candlelight of our persistent struggle for freedom and democracy will surely be lit again to illuminate Hong Kong and China. From that candlelight, we can see the people who will be released from the shackles of dictatorship.
History is a persistent struggle between light and darkness.
This year on the 32nd anniversary of June 4, darkness has enveloped the land, and yet we see candlelight that cuts through the darkness, shining a light on the totalitarian oppression of the Chinese Communist Party. People will never forget or give up. Where there is candlelight, there are people. Where there are people, there is hope.
Freedom is a natural right, the inevitable will of the people. We will never allow ourselves to be enslaved or manipulated by lies. Today the authoritarian regime may seem indestructible, but the tide of freedom and democracy will one day bring down its high walls.
Let us light the candles in our hands, let us cry out, “For freedom! a common fate, a shared struggle”, let us walk together on the road to freedom, until the victory of democracy is ours!
Release the dissidents! Rehabilitate the 1989 pro-democracy movement! Demand accountability for the June 4 massacre! End one-party dictatorship! Build a democratic China!
For freedom! A common fate! A shared struggle!