Jailed Hong Kong activist Edward Leung has urged protesters not to be controlled by their hatred, and to focus on convincing those who oppose them.
Last year, Leung was sentenced to six years behind bars in connection with rioting during the Mong Kok unrest in 2016. During recent protests, his 2016 election slogan “reclaim Hong Kong; revolution of our times” has become a popular chant among anti-extradition law demonstrators. Some people have also been bringing photos of Leung to protests.
In a letter from prison addressed to “Hong Kong people,” dated last Friday, Leung said he has been receiving the latest news from radio, television and newspapers, and was saddened by the bloody scenes at protest sites.
“I hope my letter will not be sent too late,” he said. “I know that regardless of how hard I try, I cannot imagine the difficulties and pain you have been facing.”
“As the number of arrests and injuries rise, I think of the future you will face, and those wounds that are hard to heal. I want to know who can mend this wound in society.”
Large-scale anti-extradition bill protests have rocked the city since June. Over the weekend, police arrested at least 60 people, and around 40 were injured during escalating demonstrations.
Leung said he has been separated from society for more than a year and a half and his comments may be cheap compared to others.
“Despite that, I want you to understand this: Because of your love of Hong Kong, you have shown incredible bravery and changed Hong Kong’s history,” he wrote.
“It is normal that you have hatred in your hearts, when real justice has yet to come. But I urge you not to be controlled by the hatred in these dangerous times, and to remain alert and keep thinking.”
He said politics was not just about keeping supporters, but also about converting people who do not support them.
“When those who are supposed to be fixing the problems in society choose to look the other way, and instead actively use Hong Kong’s fate as a political bargaining chip, what we need is – not to go up against them with our precious lives – but – in suffering – practice perseverance and hope,” he wrote, quoting Romans 5:3-5 of the Bible.
“I sincerely hope all Hong Kong people can cross this historical juncture safely.”
The extradition bill would allow the city to handle case-by-case fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with no prior arrangments, including China. Critics have said residents are at risk of extradition to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections. On July 9, Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the bill “dead,” but did not enact any mechanism to withdraw. More protests are due this coming weekend.