Faces of innocence. Faces of courage. Faces for freedom.|Laura Harth

Published (HKT): 2020.11.23 10:51

A friend in Hong Kong wrote me this weekend: “Evil can never prevail over righteousness”. Words that are undoubtedly true over the long course of history and that must encourage us all to keep moving forward in these increasingly dire times under the Chinese communist regime.

Moreover, when we read those words, they call out to each and every one of us to continue doing everything in our power, to invent new nonviolent strategies, to forge stronger coalitions, and most of all to never ever give up in the face of evil. That evil cannot prevail only holds true as long as there are people operating tirelessly for the good.

We also know the hour is often darkest before victory is achieved. Unfortunately I fear, as probably many of you, that the darkest hour for Hong Kong has not yet arrived. While there has been scarcely a single morning we’ve woken up over these past few weeks without seeing new arrests, illegal crackdowns on the pan-democratic opposition or the cruel banality of evil at work as in the call placed to the police by Chinese University authorities this past week, the latest statements coming from Beijing announce even worse.

Moreover, with every new trial and arrest, we are losing pieces of good. With every new provision passed, the range of possible actions for those fighting for the good within Hong Kong are reduced. With every single day passing, the hour grows darker and giving in to despair might seem like the most sensible option. But when that happens, remember that what we have been witnessing in Hong Kong over these past years, is nothing less than the kind of epic battles that fill the books of history once good prevails!

Yet as darkness increasingly sets over Hong Kong, it is also increasingly up to the outside world to carry the torch of freedom and democracy in this epic battle. This is the message Joshua Wong gifted us during his lecture to a cross-party audience on the Value of Freedom at the Italian Senate last Wednesday. As always, he delivered a message of hope and sacrifice on behalf of all Hong Kongers. In the face of the horrors he is potentially facing, his humbleness and call for attention not on himself but on the countless citizens of Hong Kong struggling for their rights, is the ultimate show of courage and a call to action for all. It is why a continuously growing number of Italian Members of Parliament across parties have come out and continue to come out in strong support of Hong Kong’s freedoms and prerogatives, repeatedly calling upon the Government to take a more decisive position, as have an ever growing group of MPs and governments across the democratic world with increasingly decisive tones.

The staunch battle for Hong Kong has most definitely - and finally - woken up the democratic world to the realities of the bully regime in Beijing. And we owe it to the courage of those who put the fight for good ahead of their own lives and safety. Yet this is not enough. The torch for freedom and democracy cannot be carried on wobbly legs of statements. And this is where free citizens around the world must join in this epic struggle, pushing our decision-makers towards concrete action. We need to forge a strong alliance across democracies to face the evils represented by the Chinese Communist Party together and cohesively now. We need decisive action and the united imposition of Magnitsky style sanctions now. We need urgent lifeboat schemes for those wishing to leave in safety now.

What we do not need are ongoing negotiations on a Comprehensive Investment Agreement between the European Union and China without so much the mention of human rights and the rule of law. Business as usual with a regime that routinely tramples on international agreements, seeks to eliminate any voice of opposition, and threatens countries pointing out their international obligations on an almost daily basis, can no longer be an option. Evil actions must have consequences as another proverb tells us that “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. The European Union was construed exactly on the premise that such a cowardice stance of appeasement should never in the history of the continent be repeated. We must and will not allow it to betray these principles in the battle for Hong Kong and the struggle for freedom and human rights for all peoples living under the iron fist of the communist regime.

Facing trial this Monday, Joshua concluded his lecture on Wednesday:

“No doubt there is a terrible price to pay in standing up to the Beijing and Hong Kong government. But after serving a few brief jail sentences and facing the continuing threat of harassment, I learnt to cherish the freedom I have for now, and I shall devote every bit what I have to strive for the freedom of those who have been ruthlessly denied.

The three episodes I shared with you today — the courtroom, visiting prisoners, the battle of university continue to remind me of the fact that the fight for freedom has not ended yet. In the coming months, I will be facing a maximum of 5 years in jail for unauthorized assembly and up to one ridiculous year for wearing a mask in protest. But prison bars would never stop me from activism and thinking critically.

I only wish that during my absence, you can continue to stand with the people of Hong Kong, by following closely to the development, no matter the ill-fated election, the large-scale arrest under National Security Law or the twelve activists in China. To defy the greatest human rights abusers is the essential way to restore democracy of our generation, and the generation following us.”

So here is my solemn promise to the people of Hong Kong. We will never stop standing with Hong Kong! We will invent new strategies and forge stronger coalitions to carry the torch of freedom and democracy. We will continue pushing our lawmakers and governments to move in a more decisive manner, to move faster.

We will make sure the world never forgets the smiling faces of Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, as they calmly and wittingly walk towards their trial, looking evil straight in the eye with the courage of the righteous. We will remember the enormous sacrifice behind these faces graced by innocence, faces plenty with courage, shining faces for freedom, as they make their stand for good. We will not allow the Twelve to be left to their fate, suffering incommunicado at the hands of the regime in Beijing as we will denounce during a conference on political prisoners this very day marking their three-month detention at the Italian Senate. In our hearts we will carry the pain of the countless families and friends fearing for the safety of their loved ones, simply for standing up for what is right and what was promised.

And most of all, we will never stop reminding the world and those in power that abandoning the struggle for Hong Kong’s freedom is not - never - an option!

(Laura Harth. A human rights activist, she coordinates activities with the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella” (GCRL). She also acts as Representative to the United Nations Institutions for the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), and as a regional liaison for the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).)

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