Eason Chung was one of the nine leading Umbrella Movement activists found guilty of public nuisance for their involvement in the 2014 pro-democracy protests on Tuesday. He read a statement in court on Wednesday morning ahead of his sentencing. He has kindly assisted Hong Kong Free Press with the translation of his speech, from the original in Cantonese.

A statement by Eason Chung

I have nothing to plead. The person being prosecuted is not the seventh defendant, or the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth or ninth. The person being prosecuted is everyone who has participated in the Umbrella Movement, and everyone who cherishes Hong Kong. What you need to know is not the seventh defendant’s background or his reasons for participation. Instead, it is why these people – those who joined the movement and were willing to spend time, effort, their past and future, dedicating their lives to the city – still do not give up on Hong Kong, despite the flickering light.

If you want to know this, then it will not be through a written submission, a few letters or some rousing words. We must destroy the self that is moulded by a system of rules and power, and venture into a world full of unknowns and tangled in history, personal struggle, and manifold coincidences. We must care about our world and not just our place in it.

Eason Chung
Eason Chung. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The Umbrella Movement and perhaps many other movements are essentially about this. We need to understand that the powerful collude within the political economy, and to find the right spot and hammer on it relentlessly. There are no saints to follow on this journey. We will be lost, and the selves that we have been building will crumble and approach destruction, but in the end we will be reborn.

I can only believe this to be true.

No matter if you are a judge, lawyer, teacher, preacher, reporter, correctional services officer, lawmaker, student, assistant, supporter or opponent, in whatever line of work, we are first and foremost a man. If this is a man. If we are a man. And so, it is not the case of mitigation, but comprehension, to comprehend the world ourselves, not via court or council or media or any intermediary medium. What all we have to know, the court tells none.

Update 19:40: the text has been updated with revisions from Eason Chung. 

Kong Tsung-gan‘s new collection of essays – narrative, journalistic, documentary, analytical, polemical, and philosophical – trace the fast-paced, often bewildering developments in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement. As Long As There Is Resistance, There Is Hope is available exclusively through HKFP with a min. HK$200 donation. Thanks to the kindness of the author, 100 per cent of your payment will go to HKFP’s critical 2019 #PressForFreedom Funding Drive. 

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Guest contributors for Hong Kong Free Press.