Lee Cheuk Yan replies to charges that criminalize peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong

Lee Cheuk Yan replies to charges that criminalize peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong

The General Secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Lee Cheuk Yan, is currently serving a 14 month sentence under two charges and is scheduled for sentencing on May 28, 2021, charged with unauthorised assembly on 1 October 2019. The President of HKCTU, Carol Ng, is under arrest without bail for participating in democractic election primaries.

In his written plea submitted on May 24, Lee Cheuk Yan decribes the importance of the peaceful demonstration on October 1, 2019, in the ongoing struggle for democratic reform in China. Lee Cheuk Yan also explains the significance of June 4, 1989 and why we must not forget.

Read the full text on the HKCTU website here: Lee Cheuk-yan’s plea: This is my unrequited love, the love for my country with such a heavy heart[HKCTU May 25, 2021]

 

In fighting charges that deny freedom of assembly, Lee Cheuk Yan recalls the tragedy of June 4, 1989

In fighting charges that deny freedom of assembly, Lee Cheuk Yan recalls the tragedy of June 4, 1989

In his written plea in response to charges of unauthorised assembly on 1 October 2019, Lee Cheuk Yan, the General Secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) explains the significance of June 4, 1989 and why we must not forget.

“… the Chinese civilian movement in 1989 has changed my life. At first I was supporting the movement from Hong Kong and provided help and support in the founding of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (HKA). Later on 30 May 1989 I brought some of the donation raised by HKA to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, where I visited students, workers and intellectuals who were participating in the movement. On the night the June Fourth Incident happened, I was made to leave as I heard that the military was about to evacuate Tiananmen Square with force. All night long I could hear gunshots from my hotel. I saw tanks entering Tiananmen Square at the early hours of the day and three-wheeled tricycles passing by my hotel on Chang’an Avenue transporting corpses and injured people non-stop. On 5 June 1989 I was arrested and taken into custody, and the 3 days which followed were the most fearful days of my life. Fortunately, some Hongkongers came to my rescue and I managed to return to Hong Kong on 8 June 1989. My hope and optimism for a democratic China turned sharply into hopelessness. I believe that a lot of Chinese and Hongkongers at that time have shared my feeling, but we did not give up. We struggled against all odds in the hope of a free and democratic China.”

This is precisely why trade unionists around the world should remember the massacre of students and workers in Tiananmen Square on June 4 and continue this courageous struggle.

Read the full text on the HKCTU website here: Lee Cheuk-yan’s plea: This is my unrequited love, the love for my country with such a heavy heart [HKCTU May 25, 2021]

 

Global Union Federations in the Asia-Pacific condemn extensive labour rights violations by the military in Myanmar

Global Union Federations in the Asia-Pacific condemn extensive labour rights violations by the military in Myanmar

Today the Asia-Pacific Regional Organizations of the Global Union Federations issued a Factsheet listing extensive labour rights violations by the military in Myanmar. The document lists  in detail a range of abuses of worker and trade union rights since the military coup on February 1, in violation of internationally recognized human rights instruments and International Labour Conventions.

More than 5,000 people have been arrested or detained and 812 killed. Dozens of trade unionists are being hunted by the military for their role in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).

The Asia-Pacific Regional Organizations of the Global Union Federations call for immediate action by the UN and the international community to support workers and trade unions in Myanmar and to take concerted action to stop this violence and repression.

Click here to download the Factsheet as a PDF.

 

 

Remembering the Massacre of Students & Workers in Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989

Remembering the Massacre of Students & Workers in Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989

As political repression in Hong Kong escalates and the genocide against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang continues, Beijing’s surveillance, control and censorship nationally and internationally is also escalating. Any criticism of the Chinese government triggers aggressive censorship. Included in that censorship is the attempt to erase any memory of the massacre of students and workers in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

To support the relentless struggle against dictstorship and to give meaning to the sacrifice of thousands of students and workers, we must remember June 4.

Hong Kong June 4, 2014

For 32 years the world remembered June 4 through the labour movement in Hong Kong. From the first solidarity marches in Hong Kong in 1989, mass rallies and candelight vigils were attended by millions of people in Hong Kong each year. As recently as June 4, 2019, 180,000 people attended the mass rally and candlelight vigil in Hong Kong. Now with political suppression in Hong Kong, cracking down on freedom of assembly and freedom of speech with the use of the National Security Law, June 4 falls silent in Hong Kong. The Beijing regime hopes that with Hong Kong silent, the world will forget.

We should remember that students and workers converged on Tiananmen Square and rallied in other cities in a movement demanding greater democracy and freedom. This included an Autonomous Workers’ Movement that demanded the freedom to organize themselves to defend their rights and interests. This meant breaking free from the control of the official trade union structures under the state-controled ACFTU. It meant greater democracy in the workplace and in society. It was – and still is – a fight against dictatorship. On May 21, 1989, the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation proclaimed in the Workers’ Declaration:

“… Destroying autocracy and dictatorship, and the pursuit of democracy is the incumbent responsibility of workers… Our strength comes from solidarity, and our success comes from convictions.”

Despite the bloody crackdown on June 4, 1989 and the arrest and imprisonment of thousands of labour activists over the years, this struggle for independent and democratic trade unions – for the ability for workers to combine together to defend their rights and interests – continues today. That is why the Beijing regime wants us to forget, and why we must remember.

On June 4, 2021, join hundreds of thousands of trade union members across the world as we gather, protest, and remember in solidarity.

Please read the past IUF editorials Why Tiananmen Matters [2014] and Remembering Tiananmen [2019]

fighting for freedom in Hong Kong from inside and outside the wall: Lee Cheuk Yan’s letter from prison

fighting for freedom in Hong Kong from inside and outside the wall: Lee Cheuk Yan’s letter from prison

HKCTU General Secretary, Brother Lee Cheuk Yan’s letter from prison:

Brothers and Sisters outside the wall,

Life in prison is monotonous, but healthy enough. Apart from missing my family and everyone, everything is fine. Today is Wednesday, the sixth day in prison, and I am getting used to the daily schedule and the set of terms in prison. I have never tried to live under a schedule in my life. It’s really “it’s hard to be unhealthy.”

As I have emphasized before going into jail, mentality is everything. Now is a time for me to learn to adjust my mentality. Take things as they come. Prison can deprive me of my freedom, but it cannot deprive me of the attitude I choose, and enjoy the freedom and unrestrained soul.

Reading is the time of freedom. I am re-reading the important historical speeches, roaming between the powerful speeches of great people in history. I want to share a passage of Hamilton, a Pennsylvania lawyer (1735) in a court debate. The theme was “The cause of liberty”. One passage was not directly related to his theme, but was an introduction. That paragraph was about the totalitarian era of Roman Caesar. Brutus gave a speech to the Romans: “The people of Rome, please see what you are doing. You are helping Caesar to forge the shackles. One day you will use it on yourselves.”

I naturally connect the history of the Communist Party of China, or even the history of China with this speech, how much “loyal garbage” helps the dictator to forge the shackles and use it on the people, and deprive the people of their freedom. But one day, they will stew in their own juice. We are not going to do the same thing to treat them, but history will condemn them!

I have not taken any notes for many years, and now I am looking at the books and writing down the words and sentences I like. Maybe I could write better articles after I am released from prison.

I believe that when I regain my freedom one day or even many years later, I can say “It was worth it”. What I hope more is the day when Hong Kong regains its freedom. At that time, we can say together, “Everything was worth it!”

Every time I think of Carol, I feel sad. What is the reason for using such tough measures against on a woman who is so honorable, brave, and independent? Of course, not only Carol, but the other candidates in the primaries who are behind the wall is also an injustice! I hope everyone will greet Carol for me and pass on her news. I will also try to write to her from prison.

Yan

22/4/2021

International Workers’ Day in Hong Kong and solidarity in the Asia-Pacific region

International Workers’ Day in Hong Kong and solidarity in the Asia-Pacific region

Despite political repression and restrictions on rallies and public activities,  HKCTU organized a public event on On May 1st, International Workers’ Day. The public exhibition and leafleting drew public support despite a heavy police presence. The activity raised awareness of the struggle for worker and trade union rights and the imprisonment of trade unionits fighting for democracy. Police stormed the public event at the last minute in a failed attempt to create fear. [See Times of Turbulence, Our Call to Resistance: HKCTU’s statement on International Workers’ Day 2021] The IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Organization conveyed a message of congratulations to HKCTU for their courage in celebrating International Workers’ Day.

As part of their International Workers’ Day avtivities and rallies across the region IUF members included solidarity for the workers of Hong Kong and Myanmar in their May 1st message.