“History will absolve us”
Submission of Lee Cheuk Yan to the Court
Your Honour, I plead guilty but I’ve done no wrong in affirming the rights of people to peaceful procession and I believe history will absolve me. May I give you more on my background so as your honour can understand why I decided to march with the people for the future of Hong Kong.
As a Christian, during Easter when the scripture was read, I was reminded how Christ went to meet his fate on the cross, sacrificing for mankind to reconcile sinners with God. From His arrest to his prosecution to his death sentencing by Pilate, he was a political prisoner who committed no crime apart from seen to be a threat to the Jewish Hierarchy by serving the poor and oppressed and preaching the good news.
Throughout history of mankind, the rights that humankind now enjoyed were pioneered by political prisoners from Gandhi to Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela. I was the Chairman of Hong Kong anti apartheid movement back in the 80s and I always remember the determination of Nelson Mandela when he said during his trial back in 1963: “an ideal for which I am prepared to die for.”. His ideal was the equality for black South African and then he spent 27 years in jail. I was thrilled that in 1994, he was elected President of South Africa, giving hope to oppressed all over the world that justice can be achieve through the persistent struggle of the people.
I went to length about his inspiration to me personally because I started my activism starting 1978 for labour rights and democracy. My lifetime ideal is the empowerment of the poor and oppressed to speak out, to rise up for their rights. Whenever the oppressed assert their rights to fight for their dignity, I feel myself also empowered and inspired to continue the difficult struggle and challenges facing Hong Kong. I asked myself, what is my life without the struggle. The struggle is my life, I cannot imagine my life without it. It had been forty three years of struggle for me and your Honour must understand my deep felt pain and sufferings to see how the State Power had been using brute force against the people and the sacrifices of so many Hongkongers who were injured, jailed or exiled, also to witness the deprivation of the basic rights of the people and the regression in democracy. I saw my ideal crumbling but I will continue the struggle even though darkness is surrounding us. It is an ideal for which I am prepared for any sanction.
Your Honour may say the law is the law, I seems not show any remorse in breaching law in this trial for August 31st. I hope Your Honour understand the utmost importance I put on the rights to freedom of expression through speech or assembly. This is the only avenue the weak and oppressed can have to right the wrongs on them. If deprived, I will call this systemic violence on the people and I do not want to see Hong Kong rule on the basis of such systemic violence. Therefore I would do my utmost to affirm the rights of people to a dignified and peaceful procession to express themselves.
Your Honour must be passionate about upholding the law and I respect your ideal. I hope I can quote from the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
“Justices continue to think and can change. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eye will be open tomorrow”
I was very impressed with her passion for gender equality and how she fought her whole life for gender equality and was able to achieve so much. Her message was time changes and judges should catch up with time. For Hong Kong, the worst may yet to come, and we need the legal profession to open their eyes to the suffering of the people and reflect on which side the law is with and how to changes with time for the advancement of the rights and dignity of the people.
I humbly submit myself to your sentencing and whatever your sentence, I have no regret for standing up for the rights of the people.
7th April, 2021
李卓人 8.31 案法庭陳情書
縱觀人類歷史文明，我們現在享有的權利，也是由一眾政治犯，諸如甘地、馬丁路德金和納爾遜·曼德拉所開創的。在 80 年代，我是「香港反種族隔離運動」的主席，我一直將納爾遜·曼德拉在 1963 年遭審判所言銘記於心。他說：「願意為我的理想而犧牲自己生命。」他的理想是爭取南非黑人的平權，然後就被判刑 27 年。我為他在 1994 年當選南非總統而感到興奮，他給予了全世界受壓逼的人民希望，讓他們知道透過堅持不懈的鬥爭，可以達致公義。
我花了一些時間去講曼德拉帶給我的啟發，因為我是從 1978 年起投身到勞工權益和民主運動的。我畢生的理想，就是讓基層和被壓逼者勇於發聲和站起來爭取屬於他們的權利。每當那些被壓逼者起來捍衛他們的權利，為尊嚴而抗爭時，我也會受到鼓舞，並得到力量去繼續面對香港正面臨的艱苦奮鬥和挑戰。我曾問自己，沒有抗爭，我的人生將會是如何？這已是我第 43 年投身於民主運動，法官閣下，你必須明白當我目睹國家權力如何使用武力鎮壓人民，令香港人受傷、受牢獄之苦或是流亡，以及香港民主倒退，人民的權利遭剝奪之時，心裏的痛苦和折磨。我看到我的理想正在崩潰，但即使被黑暗籠罩，也無阻我繼續為理想奮鬥的決心。為了這一理想，我甘願承受任何懲罰。
法官閣下可能會說，法律就是法律，而我好像沒有就 8.31 案展露出絲毫悔意。我希望法官閣下明白，我是何等重視人民透過言論和集會所彰顯的自由。這是弱勢和受壓逼者尋求公義的唯一路徑。剝奪了這種權利，形同制度對人民施暴。我不願看見香港人活在建基於制度暴力的管治之中。因此，我會竭盡所能，伸張人們有尊嚴及和平遊行去發達意見的權利。
我十分尊重法官閣下維護法治的熱誠。在此，我希望能引用已故法官 Ruth Bader Ginsburg 的話：
我十分敬佩 Ginsburg 為了性別平權奮鬥一生，成就斐然。她告訴我們，法官應該與時並進，趕上不斷在變遷的時代。在香港，最壞的尚未來臨，我們需要法律界人士去睜開雙眼，觀看人民的苦難，並反思法律在這個時代的立足點，如何隨時代變遷而轉變，以捍衞人民的尊嚴與權利。
2021 年 4 月 7 日